Where's My Jetpack?
Look at the cover of a science fiction novel written 30 years ago, and you’ll invariably notice that everyone has a jetpack on their back whose rockets let them fly around effortlessly wherever they choose. In our age of skyrocketing oil prices and chronic traffic jams, this vision seems like a cruel joke. Have software development tools gone through a similar hype-and-bust cycle?
As we’ll see in this issue, in a sense they have. Software factory tooling, computer-aided software engineering, and model-driven development tools, to name just a few buzzwords, clearly haven’t lived up to their proponents’ sometimes-inflated promises. Just as with transportation, software tools’ state of the art has taken a more realistic (perhaps even mundane), but not less exciting, route. Today’s cars integrate sophisticated electronic steering components and satellite guidance systems. In a similar way, semiautomated software tools monitor a software product’s development, evolution, quality, and maintenance throughout its entire life cycle. As with cars, comfort and economics have been the principal drivers, all rooted in the typical pragmatism of developers who must produce real software that solves real problems for real stakeholders. Rather than the predicted progression toward ever-increasing levels of abstraction, two trends have driven the evolution of software development tools: integration at the source code level and a focus on quality.
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