Platforms as a side effect

What I want to talk about here is a simple statement that I believe to be true:

The best platforms are written by the people who are forced to invent them as they make a product.

Years ago I learned a bit about J2EE; never actually wrote an app using it, but enough to get a sense. I came away with the very strong impression that the people working on it were driven by committee, with managers in their respective contributing corporations telling them what to do. They weren’t the same people out in the field writing apps using it, day in and day out, under time pressure to produce as much as possible. On the other hand, from Ruby On Rails Wikipedia:

David Heinemeier Hansson extracted Ruby on Rails from his work on Basecamp, a project management tool by 37signals (now a web application company).[10]

Now, I’ve never written a Rails app either, but it’s pretty clear from the Internet which one of these wins. Another excellent example is the Amazon Web Services. Amazon had a lot of this internally because they were forced to in order to make a web shopping site before CEO Jeff Bezos made the key decision to spin it off as a platform.

And the most topical example here – GTK+ was originally spun out of the GIMP project because Motif sucked. Anyways, some food for thought. Basically if you’re one of those people in the trenches writing a platform – you should consider asking your manager to switch to writing apps for a bit. At least hopefully this blog post reminds me later that I have a few GTK+ apps that I really should get back to hacking on…