Intentional Software Lives… But Did It Miss Its Window?

from the took-'em-long-enough dept

It’s been many, many years since the news broke that Charles Simonyi, whose claim to fame was his work on Microsoft’s office suite, announced plans for his company, Intentional Software, to make creating applications as easy as creating a PowerPoint presentation. This has resulted in some level of ridicule, as there are still plenty of people who think that the ease of creating PowerPoint presentations is actually a problem that has resulted in poor decision making. However, when put in the context of “situated software”, Simonyi’s idea starts to make a little bit more sense. The idea is that many individuals don’t need a big app that scales, but just need a simple app to do what they specifically need it to do.

Unfortunately, though, over the last few years, Simonyi has seemed a lot more focused on going into space than on what’s happening in the market. A ton of companies have entered the space in the intervening years, offering up simple tools for non-programmers to create simple programs to handle the basic tasks that they need. Every time yet another one of these would launch, we’d wonder whatever happened to Simonyi’s project? Apparently, it’s still going, as Simonyi took part in a conference this week again claiming that its too hard for business people to create applications. That may have been true five years ago when he started, but has he looked around lately? Plenty of such systems have launched. However, the problem hasn’t been a lack of tools — but, a lack of interest from people to actually use those tools on a widespread basis. Perhaps he really has something different up his sleeve, but it would help if there were a bit more evidence that there’s a real market for this type of offering.

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Comments on “Intentional Software Lives… But Did It Miss Its Window?”

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Lisa Westveld says:


But maybe most people who do not work as developers just can’t write out a problem into logical steps and then write an application to perform those steps. It’s not the tool that will make good applications, it’s the people who design them.
But let’s compare software development with the task of lawyering, okay? Everyone is supposed to know the law, thus technically everyone should be able to work as a lawyer. In reality, most people might know about 1% or less of all the laws. Even professional lawyers don’t know everything. So if I have to defend you in court, I would probably do a horrible job at it, and you could end up with life imprisonment just for littering… 🙂
On the other hand, I write brilliant applications…

A long, long time ago, life was simple. Men would hunt for meat, women would gather nuts and vegetables and together they would prepare the food, sleep and make little people. Nowadays, people have all specialized in many, many things and even those who just gather meat or vegetables have now specialized in certain types of food. Each of us knows a lot about a very small topic, compared to what is out there. While in the past, everyone knew a little of everything.

Business people don’t make their own applications simply because they aren’t smart enough to do so. Those who try, end up on the site. 🙂

mermaldad (profile) says:

Maybe it's not the lack of a market

While I agree that there are plenty of people out there in business who lack the skillz to put together an application, there are plenty of smart, adaptable businesspeople out there who could. The point of situated software is to make it easy enough for them to do so. Not full-featured scalable applications, but utilities to do specific jobs, at least.

Mike suggests the problem is the lack of a market. I would argue that it is just as likely that the problem is lack of exposure. How many businesspeople out there have never heard of these tools, as opposed to trying them and rejecting them? Or heard about them but not at a time when they had a need for them and promptly forgot about them?

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