In the 1990's Visual Basic, PowerBuilder, and Lotus Notes were popular, powerful and made the development of database-backed forms accessible. The web disrupted this cozy market increasing the number of forms, formats and requirements. The result was HTML with a text editor became a common - if partial - replacement and while …
Lovely web form builder that dumps all responses into the same spreadsheet for you to do with what you will.
spreadsheet. I feel ill.
That's what I thought until..
I tried to get validation working. As you say, the Google form/spreadsheet combo could be very good news, and it seems like it's almost there, but it's useless unless validation rules applied to the spreadsheet are enforced by web forms. It's a pity, and something that Google doesn't seem to want to fix.
Adobe's end-to-end server tech
Adobe's end-to-end server tech. is ColdFusion, which is fairly cheap as these things go, it might even be free in your industry.
The language however is implemented by two other J2EE and/or .Net engines, Railo and BlueDragon both of which are free.
Complexity in the Real World
Many real world forms/data scenarios are not so trivial as your premise seems to assert.
This is not anarchy; it is a reflection of our complex world and the software systems that support us in it. The law of thermodynamics for software says: "complexity cannot be destroyed; it can only change form." That means if you are trying to build software that solves an extremely complex problem then that software will also be complex.
That said, I completely agree that we frequently create systems that add are over-complexity -- well beyond the complexity of the problem they attempt to solve. I also agree that the current trajectory of our tools and frameworks takes us deeper into ever more over-complex territory. Modern IDEs and tools enable/encourage the creation of over-complex solutions and our hardware masks its inefficiency. However, I do not think over-complexity is a problem that can be solved by the introduction of new technology alone. Developers must demand and strive for simplicity in their own work and choose languages, frameworks, and infrastructure that promote simplicity. We are talking about a socio-economic and cultural change in the development platform market.
It's not the technology that stops the innovation
I completely agree that such a tool is needed to overcome the complexity of developing for the web, but I don't see it happening soon due to:
- The big software vendors (microsoft/oracle/adobe) are doing just fine selling development software that is overly complex.
- Start-ups would have a huge task marketing a product against the FUD from the big guys.
- There have been changes in corporate IT since the 90s that demand proven security/reliability/compliance to existing standards that any such tool would need to overcome. Some companies I have worked for would probably not install Excel, if it had not already been invented.
These tools exist
Such tools already exist, the challenge is they are from smaller software companies that have to compete with the huge marketing spend of Oracle, Adobe etc...
They also face the challenge of developers wanting to hold onto programming skills rather thna use a framework.
I believe the shift is occuring through tools like www.edgeipk.com but as you say standards are necessary too.
Goes from the ground up.
The new version (3) has now been sat in development for 4+ years. It's one (very smart) guy and I doubt it would survive his demise. There is absolutely no marketing going on. I've spent 2 years looking at/for full service toolsets (40+) for web development and not one has passed my criteria. I'm currently looking at Smalltalk with the Seaside/GLASS virtual image.
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