The things you’ll see at Dreamforce 2007, now bearing down on us the week after next, will totally change your perspective on what you can do with Web-facing development and on-demand application delivery. That said, I hope you’ll never see a salesforce.com communication that claims to "make development easy."
We can, and will, drastically simplify all of the elements of application development that add no user value — but destroy the user’s illusion of simple and intuitive function unless they’re done correctly. Going forward, this means that developers can focus a far larger share of their attention on the parts of application design that do add user value: the conception of rich and relevant data types, the crafting of complete and useful sets of operations against those abstract types, the creative integration of many views and functions into combinations that map well onto real-world tasks.
All of these are hard things to do well: we can hope, though, that we’ll all do them better when we don’t have to work so hard to glue together the toothpicks of raw APIs and fragmented infrastructure with a sticky mess of of low-level code.
Meanwhile, it’s clear that salesforce.com is not the only company recognizing that this is the future of how applications will be built by developers and offered to users. We’re one of very few to be betting our entire stack of chips on this proposition: observers such as Daniel Cummins, analyst at Bank of America, has impugned in no uncertain terms the "half-hearted participation in on-demand…by Oracle, Microsoft and SAP." But all of those companies, and many others besides, are recognizing that they have to have something in their portfolio that they can call an on-demand option if they want to stay relevant to developers.
Coming to Dreamforce is the best way to swim in the deep end of the pool of future developer talent: to be part of the group that knows the difference between the reality and the mere label of on-demand, and to be a resource for the skills and experience that will be scarce in years to come. I hope to see you there.