Make Technologies offers software alternative to outsourcing

SAN FRANCISCO — A Canadian developer is using Sun Microsystems‘ JavaOne conference to launch the professional edition of a product it says could help save local programming jobs from the offshore outsourcing trend.

Make Technologies Inc. introduced Standards Based Automation (SBA) Pro, a series of wizards, editors and property panels that generates source code for a complete, working system. The company, which is based in Vancouver, describes SBA as both a product and a “”delivery process”” to accelerate the development of Java applications.

Michael Hagerman, Make’s CEO, said SBA Pro in some cases can automate 70 to 80 per cent of the core application code that ties up many enterprise developers. Over the last year, the IT industry has seen considerable low-level programming outsourced to offshore sites in places like India, but Hagerman said SBA offers another alternative. In the case of one German financial services customer, for example, work was kept in-house but automated in order to let developers work on more important tasks.

“”We’re seeing a lot of interest (because of offshore outsourcing),”” Hagerman said. “”When you’ve got the right combination of talent and automation in your processes, you can see some organizations positioning themselves as ‘nearshore’ operations.””

The threat of job losses has politicized offshore outsourcing, but in a press conference following his keynote speech, Sun Microsystems CEO Scott McNealy said Java programming was flourishing wherever it was happening.

“”We have developers and user groups all over the world . . . We haven’t offshored it off planet Earth yet,”” he said, offering blunt advice to North American programmers. “”Jolt Cola. Work all night. Don’t program in .Net.””

Organizations aren’t just turning to SBA to deal with the offshore question, Hagerman added. Enterprises are typically interested in automation to cut down on costs, but by freeing up some of the coding it can also help avoid team burnout, he said. “”You can only flog the horses so much before you start to encounter some resistance,”” he said.

Make’s code development environment, known as RDE, relies on code pattern templates that can modify or update applications by regenerating code as requirements change. This allows Make to pitch SBA Pro not only at enterprise organizations creating new applications but those that need to meet various regulatory or legislative requirements, Hagerman said.

As more automation comes into the market — Hagerman acknowledged several competitors on the JavaOne show floor this year — developers will likely change the way they train and mentor their staff. Intermediate developers, for example, could end up tackling work that only a senior developer would have touched in the past. “”This is pre-tested code,”” Hagerman said. “”All the bugs have been worked out.””

Sun said approximately 14,000 people are attending JavaOne this year. Hagerman said he is happy with his decision to exhibit. “”It’s smaller than it was, but the people coming by are on the hunt for things,”” he said. “”The intensity of conversations I’m having is much higher.””

JavaOne continues through Friday.

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