Programming Technologies: The True Cost of a Wrong Choice

Just as in the fashion industry, the development world is prone to occasionally give in to fleeting trends. New and exciting programming languages often take companies by storm, spawning in the whirlwind a flurry of articles that aim to justify the latest fad. To be fair, some of these trends have indeed stuck around to prove themselves worthy of their initial hype. Others, however, simply left their soiled footprints all over the internet and to this day mislead customers who believe them to be a worthwhile investment.

As a result of this post-truth era, it is not uncommon for companies to ask us to develop web solutions using less-than-ideal programming languages. The reality, however, is that every project is unique and should be treated as such. For this blog post, Software Planet Group would like to highlight recent trends to explain why some technologies may best be left ignored for the moment.

Ruby on Rails

Touted as a very simple way to engineer a minimum viable product, Ruby on Rails found its niche in the startup movement and quickly surged in popularity. At its peak in 2007, demand for the web application framework was so high that 60 percent of all our software developers were somehow involved in RoR projects. Today, however, the Ruby wave has unmistakably turned to foam, leaving in its wake a dwindling number of developers who are qualified to maintain these systems.

Compared to more modern alternatives, RoR has fallen noticeably behind the competition. Web requests in particular are processed at alarmingly sluggish rates, and to make matters worse, the Ruby language and Rails framework are no longer being actively developed. For these reasons, we are currently unlikely to recommend Ruby on Rails to any of our customers.

Node.js

The next technology to rock the programming world was JavaScript runtime environment Node.js. Created in 2009, the project was swiftly met with overwhelming support, due in no small part to its asynchronous I/O feature. This meant that Node.js was both fast and scalable, as it was able to quickly process several small tasks by queuing them in the background without blocking the main thread.

Just as with RoR, however, now that the hype has faded, many developers have noted that Node.js is not the silver bullet it once claimed to be.

The first issue identified by software engineers poses a serious security risk. Because every Node.js solution must be shipped together with its source code, should a company’s server be hacked, ill-intentioned individuals would also gain access to the code. This alone makes Node.js development wholly unsuitable for enterprise customers, but all companies unwilling to allow their software to be freely modified would do well to steer clear of the technology.

While it may be too early to shelve Node.js in the case of every customer, public interest in the technology is already beginning to show eyebrow-raising signs of decline.

Java

The former titan Java started to lose considerable ground a decade ago, when in droves, companies decided to finally abandon their aging programming language. At the time, YouTube was filled with videos comparing Java with newer, better technologies, and the conclusion was always the same: due to Java’s long-winded code, businesses refusing to move on would face exorbitant development costs. As a matter of fact, the ascension of Java alternatives such as RoR and Node.js was largely spurred by this massive exodus.

Most customers would probably be surprised to find out, however, that Java has once again earned its place at the cutting edge of technology. This was largely a result of Oracle’s acquisition of the language from its previous owners, Sun Microsystems. Taking cues from intuitive programming languages for the Java Virtual Machine, such as Groovy, Scala and Kotlin, Oracle savvily implemented sorely lacking features into the main Java project. As a result of this newfound simplicity, Java now makes asynchronous programming as easy as .NET and Node.js, bringing its speed of development in line with every major technology in the industry. Java also remains extremely secure, making it a powerful solution for established companies and startups alike.

The Verdict

With all these benefits, it would be tempting for many developers to issue a blanket recommendation, but this would be irresponsible. Unfortunately, software companies are equally prone to recommend technologies purely based on their own levels of comfort and aptitude. At Software Planet Group, however, we strive to have a bird’s eye view of every project by analysing a company’s IT infrastructure and predicting the future direction of development. This allows us to pinpoint the best solution to every problem facing our customers.

That being said, we believe Java is now in a prime position to be used to develop around 80 percent of modern enterprise solutions.

But much like big hair was successfully confined to the 80’s, in a few years’ time, this article too will have become dated. Perhaps then another star player will have emerged in the development world. This is why it is always best to seek professional advice. As a company committed to using the most relevant and best-suited technologies, SPG are uniquely equipped to translate your vision into uttermost success.

David Blackwood

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