To a large degree, application development has weathered the 2001 storm and is likely to show as much resilience in 2002.
Even with many companies introducing cost-cutting measures and deferring large-scale system deployments, IDC analyst Grace Lai predicted the application development industry would remain steady throughout next year. Many companies will roll out modular applications rather than large systems, she said, with an upturn in deals coinciding with a general market upturn later in the year.
"We've seen growth in software development this year and I don't see any sign of that abating," said David Looke, managing director of software development tool distributor Microway. "Australia produces mainly specialised vertical market software products, which aren't affected by events around the world and economic fluctuations to the same extent as more consumer-oriented products."
Looke said that despite the industry hype surrounding Java, most commercial development in Australia is done in C++ and Visual Basic. He said there are many trained Java developers and not enough work for them. At the same time, Australia suffers from a shortage of VB and C++ developers.
Looke expects Microsoft's .Net to be a big boost to the development industry, with a lot of interest in the VisualStudio.Net development tool, which will be officially released in early 2002.
But Lai is sceptical of whether the development community will see positive results for another 12 to 18 months. "I am not so sure .Net will hit the high notes in 2002," she said. "I think 2003 will be a better year for Microsoft in that respect. The acquisition phase of projects are being stretched out to six or nine months these days."
But Lai does agree that the maturation and acceptance of XML (extensible markup language) will be a prominent driver behind the development of Web services in 2002. The development of these services will then encourage companies to revise their infrastructure and how applications interface with each other. "Developers with skills in legacy applications will come back to the fore," she said.