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Sat 11 Nov 2006
Category : Technology
I'm working on something I'm calling Maven. This is how it fits.
But before that, let me back up a bit and explain how my world view had been shaped. I believe I'm lucky to be living in Singapore at just this point in time - just one generation earlier, and I would have been engulfged in the deprivation brought on by the Japanese invasion of World War II - no Internet and definitely no Mac, and no career as a software developer.
But when I see some parts of Bangkok that looked a bit like how Singapore used to be, I'm old enough to remember how we had made that progression.
It started with infrastructure - the building of the roads, the airport, the harbour, and then the neat, clean factories and pioneer industries.
So, that's what I have been working on - building the infrastructure. The mail server, web server, and database server - these are the roads, rail and harbour when you're setting up a business.
I was at a Red Hat Linux talk yesterday and much of what was said was so much IT talk - IT guys talking to each other - of backports, and escalation, and service level agreements - all hot air over the heads of end users.
I see a different movement - of people who're coalescing around much smaller scale enterprises. Just because they can. And they've got no room for IT departments. They use consumer-level tools. And they want (and need) software that works like their consumer-level tools. Works first time, with a slip of paper for the manual, or no more than five pages. Because who has got the time to read the manual?
As organisations, they may be small in size - but as a market, in aggregate, they're huge - they're going to be huger than the old-line enterprises, if they not already are.
So what all these enablers (like MailServe, WebMon, and DNS Enabler) do is help these bands of people or individuals snap on and set up their computing/communications infrastructure, in a fashion that tries at least to match the joy of using a Mac.
But what people also need are databases - to store, organise, record and analyse their business data. A good database mirrors the health of the business. We have great database solutions on the Mac - SQLite3, MySQL5 and PostgreSQL - and they're all free and very powerful. But they remain hidden, unless there's a way to help people tap their potential.
That's what I'm trying to do with Maven - to realise the potential of all these database solutions so we get them to play with the rest of the things we're starting to exploit.
Ironically, it is Microsoft that is showing us the way - look at this demo of Microsoft's Office Accounting Express. The power comes from having an integrated workflow - with all the parts coming together to make the whole greater than the sum of its parts. This is what I'm trying to express, to tie all these things I'm doing together. We can do it on the Mac. I, of course, believe we can do it better. That's why I built Luca, the accounting system. Otherwise, why bother?