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Forecast & Review: Progamming

Expert John Robbin's predictions for 2002

The year 2001 has been an interesting one for software development. In the Windows world, it will stand as the high water mark of the client application. After eight plus years of the thick client, development shops are finally getting it right and with COM; we can now stitch them together much faster using third party controls and libraries.

This was also the year that the majority of companies started seriously looking at server-based applications. The control issues and dynamic demands of the business processes we are all dealing with are finally pushing even the most risk-averse towards "Weblications."

Finally, underlying everything we did was a vague feeling that there was something important coming out from Microsoft that might change our development lives -- just as we finally got good at what we were doing.

The coming year will be all about Microsoft's new .NET technology. From here on out, you will be talking about nothing but ASP.NET and Web services. Like it or not, Microsoft has bet the farm on .NET and you will be developing with it next year. With a clean Application Programming Interface on top of Internet applications for the first time, you will find many benefits to .NET. Of course, you really have to rewrite your applications to take advantage of the new power, so if you have been complaining about the bad architectures you are dealing with today at work, here's your chance to do it right.

Next year we'll still be dealing with the massive hype surrounding XML, but hopefully people will finally realize it's simply a file format that's only as good as the specification put on top of it.

One final thought: Even though pundits have been predicting the demise of the programmer for years, we'll still be here -- and stronger than ever.

John Robbins heads up the consulting and debugging services of Wintellect, a software consulting and education firm. John wrote the book "Debugging Applications" (Microsoft Press) and writes the Bugslayer column for MSDN magazine. Additionally, he has spoken at most major software development conferences around the world. Based in New Hampshire, John takes an evil delight in finding and fixing impossible bugs in other people's programs.

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