Missing Links: Showstoppers in Software

In development there is a term for a missing feature or bug plagued service that will be the crucial factor which will threaten the overall acceptance of the software – its called a showstopper. Well now that ISVs are really assembling architectures – collections of software and service offerings that have to be finely tuned and balanced, the issue of missing links or showstoppers is once again cropping up more often.

Take SaaS. Salesforce.com is setting the technology and business service arrangement agenda and with great sophistication with its multi-tenant, open API, and APEX scripting language among other things. But the show stopper is that CRM simply does not cut the app-breadth mustard for many IT organizations. This leaves the opportunity for Microsoft, Oracle, and SAP to come right in and take a big chunk of the market with their ERP-based SaaS offerings. Especially if SalesForce.coms APEX is perceived as proprietary.

So guess what – SAP has announced with its A1R offering it will be delivering SaaS to its customer base. Mind you – SAP users will have to wait until sometime in late 2008 for the software. Oh, and there is no Open API. And as for APEX-like scripting languages or offline operation- no deal. Attention Attention Attention Shoppers – three showstoppers in a row.

The arena of GUI Integration is full of showstoppers. Take SilverLight, please. Microsoft is determined to get back into Web developers good graces at the lowest possible cost. So the cross-platform and cross browser capabilities that Microsoft PR flaunts and repeats so often that normally astute observers like eWeeks Darryl Taft repeat it verbatim. But a simple scratching of the surface finds that cross browser means just IE, Firefox, and maybe Safari . Cross platform means just Windows Vista, Linux maybe if Novell does the port through Mono (no direct and guaranteed support from Microsoft – this is a tired old litany from Redmond), and Mac is still up in the air as to arrival and level of support. Finally, SilverLight will have features and ties that guarantee that it only runs best in Vista. 1, 2, 3, – Showstoppers!

But not to be outdone, Sun has released JavaFX – a cross platform and cross browser RIA enabler. However, there are two missing ingredients. Sun has yet to explain where JavaFX fits in the pantheon on the Web that is Java Applets, JSP, and JSF. Will JavaFX be a part of any of these technologies, will it eventually replace them, or will it just be a horse race – let the best technology win ? Also JavaFX is light on a critical RIA features such as handling popular media formats that are not cross platform(think Microsoft WMV and WMP), plus even support for media that are like RM, PDF, SWF, etc. One less but still – showstoppers.

So I was surprised earlier this week when I read about the new Cold Fusion 8 beta that Adobe is making available on its Labs website. Because CF8 is essentially middleware in the form of an Application Server Front End , I was expecting some showstoppers to easily crop up. Lack of support for popular App Servers – nope JBOSS, and WebSphere , and even .NET are all on tap. Okay so it would be late to pick up the latest Adobe RIA technology – Acrobat, Apollo, Flex, and Flash. Nope – all are on board. Okay so it would lack full management and operational support tools. Nope – Cold Fusion 8 moves from a fairly strong position to top of the line admin capabilities.

Hmmmmm … no major show stopper to report in Cold Fusion 8 so far – this is software, given its almost fanatical base support, that deserves a closer look see.


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