Here’s an interesting article about an attempt to design a development environment that is meant to be usable by any device, anywhere (editors note: the link is no longer active). The people behind this thinking should be commended for their foresight and sheer guts. Will it work? I have to admit that I don’t really see how it could. Some of the requirements they place on the whole enterprise include being intuitive and easy to use, and taking advantage of a device’s capabilities and features. But by definition, the developer can’t know what those capabilities are. Huh? To me, this sounds like a great way to enforce mediocrity, rather than encourage innovation.
In the database world, if you build a system that is meant to appeal to a large and diverse group of users, you often end up building to the lowest common denominator due to the all-inclusiveness of the product. I realize the people at Intel IT are working on a way to ignore the platform, not include it, and that this is an important distinction. For it to work, it will require buy-in from platform developers – the very group of people who are most likely to be extreme control freaks. It sounds like trying to sell Christianity to headhunters. Sure, you can do it. But it may be a long time before it turns into a harmless and all-but-forgotten meme from a Disneyland ride.