mrc's Cup of Joe Blog

Join us in exploring the world of modern development, evolving technologies, and the art of future-proof software

Month: April 2013

7 major web development trends of the next 5 years

EducationDriven largely by the rise of mobile computing, web development has evolved dramatically over the last 5 years. Just think: Five short years ago, we developed web applications for use on a PC. Now, we develop applications for multiple devices.

While I could list many more ways web development has changed in the last few years, I’d like to instead focus on the future. How is web application development changing? What big trends will shape web development over the next 5 years?

I’ve compiled a list of trends that I believe will shape web application development in the coming years, which includes both my own predictions and predictions from others. While I don’t consider this a comprehensive list, I do believe that each of these trends will affect web development in the coming years.

One more thing: As this is a business-focused blog, the trends below are geared primarily at business application development…though most of them apply to development in general. Of course, if you think I forgot any major trends, please feel free to add them in the comments.

Workflow application demo

EducationA couple of months back, we released a powerful new m-Power feature: Event-triggered messaging. In short, it lets your applications deliver email or sms messages on a pre-determined schedule, or based on application events.

Now, you can use this feature in all sorts of ways–from running and emailing reports on a scheduled basis to automatically corresponding with customers and everything in between. Really, you’re only limited by your imagination.

Today, I’d like to show you one very powerful use for event-triggered messaging: Workflow applications! That’s right, this new feature lets you create new workflow applications, or even add workflow elements to your existing applications.

Rather than try to explain it, we’ve put together this short workflow application demo video. Hopefully, it will give you a better idea of what’s possible, and even spark some ideas of your own. Enjoy!

Weekly recap: 6 traits of successful CIOs, how IT departments waste time, and more…

EducationEvery week, I share the most interesting and useful tech articles that I’ve found over the past week. This week’s top articles focus on traits of successful CIOs, how IT departments waste time, and more. I hope you find them useful:

PHP is the right tool for the job (for all the wrong reasons)
This “Pro-PHP” post highlights the big reason why PHP is so popular: It works, out of the box, for people who don’t know what they’re doing. While I understand how that would attract a large user base, it sure doesn’t sound like a language I want to build a business on.

How to build applications your users will hate

EducationIT departments are often frustrated by poor application adoption. They spend months building applications for their end users, only to see low adoption rates upon completion. The very users that begged the IT department for the application don’t use it once it’s built.

Why? What causes low user adoption? What makes users dislike an application that they themselves begged the IT department to deliver?

While there’s no single answer, user adoption problems typically stem from several common mistakes. Which mistakes? We posed this question to a few experts and have included their advice (along with some actionable takeaways) below. User adoption problems usually occur when developers…

3 reasons to move your spreadsheets to the web (and how to do it)

EducationEveryday, thousands of employees put their companies at risk through spreadsheet misuse. For example, some use spreadsheets to maintain critical business data. Others go even further, and distribute those spreadsheets to multiple users across different departments. Others go further still, and even base business decisions off of these spreadsheets.

If that’s happening in your company, here are two articles you’ll want to read: This article references a study that uncovered a shocking statistic on spreadsheet errors. This website highlights real-life business problems caused by spreadsheet errors.

So, what can you do about spreadsheet misuse? What’s the alternative to spreadsheets? The answer: Put that data in a database, and build web applications over the database. Here are three reasons why that approach is better than spreadsheets:

Weekly recap: 2013 IT salary survey, tech trends for developers, and more…

EducationEvery week, I share the most interesting and useful tech articles that I’ve found over the past week. This week’s top articles focus on the 2013 salary survey, tech trends for developers, and more. I hope you find them useful:

Long term tech trends developers need to know
I particularly liked the author’s take on the mobile market in this article: “The mobile market is a merciless meat grinder, a never-ending battle for vendors, consumers, and developers.” He makes a great point. With all of the turnover in the mobile market, we can’t possibly know which platform or device will be popular in even two years time. Kind of makes native app development seem a little risky from a business standpoint…

8 advanced BI features that many businesses overlook

EducationWhen you hear the term, “Business Intelligence”, what pops in your head? Flashy charts and graphs? Executive dashboards? Interactive reports?

If so, you’re certainly not alone. I’d wager that most people associate BI with one or all of those terms. The fact is, those are some of the most common features of Business Intelligence solutions. In fact, I would even add mobile apps to that list. These days, any BI solution worth its salt will include mobile application options.

That being said, I’d like to take a step past those common BI features. Any BI solution will give you charts and graphs. They will all provide dashboards and reports. What features separate the ordinary BI solution from the extraordinary?

Today, I’d like to focus on a few of the more advanced, yet often overlooked BI features. These are features that you may ignore at the time of purchase, only to realize you need when it’s too late. These are the features that will add enormous value to your company, and could even make or break your BI project. So, without further ado, here are 8 advanced BI features that you can’t afford to overlook:

Weekly recap: 15 most coveted programming skills, why IT projects fail, and more…

EducationEvery week, I share the most interesting and useful tech articles that I’ve found over the past week. This week’s top articles focus on coveted programming skills, why IT projects fail, and more. I hope you find them useful:

Why tech projects fail: 5 unspoken reasons
Why do tech projects fail? While I recently covered this topic from a development standpoint, this article provides some additional insight for IT projects in general from the viewpoint of a longtime IT executive. It’s well worth a read.

4 great examples of mobile apps improving business

EducationYou’ve probably heard all of the mobile statistics by now. Mobile is the fastest growing trend in history. Tablets will outsell PCs/laptops this year. Smartphone and tablets accounted for 70% of total devices sold in 2012. The statistics paint a pretty clear picture.

But, you already know that mobile is the next big thing. You know that mobile apps are quickly becoming essential to the business world. Recognizing the trend is the easy part. So, what’s the problem? If you’re like many companies, the problem is understanding how mobile can improve your business. What type of mobile app should your company build?

If you’re asking yourself those questions, I’d like to help spark some ideas. This article highlights four innovative ways other companies are using mobile apps to improve business. Along with explaining each app, I’ve also explained how you might possibly apply each example to your business. Hopefully, the examples will spark some mobile app ideas for your company:

Considering mobile apps? Read this first…

EducationI’ve noticed some confusion surrounding the term, “Mobile app.” People typically associate the term “Mobile app” with apps that are built for a single platform and downloaded from an app store. In reality, those types of apps are native apps, and they’re only one of three mobile app types.

This is where many businesses get confused. They see the popularity of native apps among consumers, and assume it’s the best approach for business. However, while native apps work great for the consumer market, they’re often the worst of the three mobile app options for business.

Why? We’ve outlined the reasons for you in a free white paper entitled, “Native Mobile Apps: The wrong choice for business?” The paper also explains each development option from a business perspective, along with the pros and cons of each.

So, how should businesses approach mobile apps? The video below outlines one method of building mobile apps that’s specifically designed for businesses: