Do you reinvent the wheel?

As developers, we always try to come up with a great idea, but later find out that someone else already did it. Today, I talk about why we try to reinvent the wheel and why it's not a bad thing.

March 16th, 2015 • Opinion •
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When you started coding, did you want to get into this field because it would make you a crap-ton of money?

...or was it because you were making something from scratch that didn't exist until YOU, with your own two hands, built it?

I am constantly amazed at how much this industry has grown over the past 20 years with the Internet. For those of you who make a product and then realize that someone else built something similar, we clam up and immediately switch gears where we stop working on the project or we start looking at projects in a different light.

If you look at the project in a different light, we consider the "What ifs" and "Maybe we could..." to make the product shine a little brighter. You think to yourself, "What one or two features can we add that would separate us from the competition?"

Or you completely drop the project.

What we need to focus on is building the better mousetraps.

This is now becoming the standard in the development world because like applications in the 80's, every major website that you can think of has already been built.

Fat-Client

Let's look back at technology over the years.

Before the Internet, we had every kind of fat-client known to man that would do everything locally on your PC.

Then, by the end of the 80's, we had a saturation of computer applications. Every one was thinking of a new program to build. Each computer application would range from industrial to business to entertainment and was available on a computer.

In the mid-90's when everyone was jumping onto the Internet, we were looking for that one website that would catapult you into the limelight and find that proverbial pot of gold so that you could retire early. People were thinking of every way to draw attention to their website.

People were taking their fat-client applications, transitioning them to become "web-enabled," and then moving them out to the Internet for portability. Some were innovative and taking existing websites and building onto them.

For example, I remember Lycos and Yahoo! had their search engine/portals. I'm pretty sure pre-Google didn't say, "You know what, the world doesn't need another search engine. We need to make something else."

They took an existing idea and made it better.

Becoming Mobile

So now, the focus is mobile.

According to who you ask, some people still believe that mobile, whether it be a native app on the your smartphone or a website, is still in the transitional phase of the web. However, there are some companies who aren't even looking at mobile as an initiative.

Really? Well, I have news for them...they need to hurry. The progression of mobile development is almost becoming the saturation that we experienced from the 80's with the personal computer days. Anyone who has an idea for an application is building it to work on a mobile device.

Everyone on this earth has 2-3 mobile devices, whether it be a cell phone, tablet, or laptop, to access the Internet.

To those companies who STILL do not have a mobile presence, listen to me carefully...YOU NEED TO BUILD A MOBILE PRESENCE...whether it's native or mobile...PICK ONE!

If you think I'm pulling your leg, check this out. Google made mobile a ranking factor for it's search results...and that was back in November 2014. So get your site "mobile-ready."

What are you rambling about?

The reason I gave you a history lesson for the past 10 minutes is because it doesn't matter what technology that appears in the next 5-10 years. IT individuals (yes, individuals, not companies) will leverage older, more familiar technology and couple that with newer technology to build better mousetraps and more innovative products that resemble past experiences and products that are familiar to us.

Let me give you an example.

First, there was Excel. The big executable that runs on your PC. You have to download the application, install it, and then run it. Then, Google came along and made the shared spreadsheet.

Now, what do you think of when you think of sharing an Excel spreadsheet?

Excel or Google?

Google took an existing product (Excel) and turned it on it's head with a collaborative way to edit spreadsheets instead of polluting our email with attachments of spreadsheets. ;-)

They took a familiar, older concept and built a better mousetrap.

See what I mean?

With that said, it makes me wonder about the "Cloud-Age." In my opinion, we are in the thick of it.

It makes me think about what's next on the horizon for IT.

Can you think of any other types of innovative solutions built from older technologies?

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Picture of Jonathan Danylko

Jonathan Danylko is a freelance web architect and avid programmer who has been programming for over 20 years. He has developed various systems in numerous industries including e-commerce, biotechnology, real estate, health, insurance, and utility companies.

When asked what he likes to do in his spare time, he replies, "Programming."

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