As we head into the long 4th of July weekend in the U.S., I am pondering not only the declaration of independence that this country celebrates, but the concept of such declarations and their effectiveness in the realm of software development. We've seen a few manifestos, including one, The Cluetrain Manifesto, that ended up getting published in book form. And last year the Open Group solicited signatures to a "Developer Declaration of Independence" (See my previous blog entry about this.)
While such efforts may seem modest in comparison to the shaping of a country and its sovereignty, they certainly can have a substantial impact. Consider how, for example, how Linux, Java, and World Wide Web standards such as HTML and XML have blazed the path for broad adoption of open, standards-based, cross-platform development in a software world that had previously been almost exclusively proprietary, with vendor lock-in the norm.
Consider this tidbit: Recently Evans Data Corp. reported that "Java users are more likely to make use of open source software than non-Java users," suggesting Java has promoted open source. "Eighty percent of heavy Java users (using Java more than 50% of the time) and 73% of light Java users (less than 50% of the time) use open source software for development compared to less than 45% of non-Java developers. In addition, Java users have more confidence in Linux for mission critical applications with 80% having enough confidence to use it in such important deployments compared to less than 50% of non-Java users."
If you're enjoying time celebrating Independence Day this Monday, I encourage you to envision a similar day of independence for software, and specifically software developers and other technical professionals. A world where companies and individuals can use the tools and platforms because they work best, not because they conform to an already-adopted proprietary platform or tool.
Know of any unheralded champions of open standards? New tools or products that may further the cause of developer independence? If so, please share your comments; I'd love to hear about it.