Developers' Changing Roles

An Interview with Sybase's Loren Corbridge from JavaOne 2007

by Frank Sommers and Bill Venners
June 28, 2007

In this interview with Artima, Loren Corbridge, manager of Sybase's Eclipse-based IDE, talks about developers' increasing involvement in a variety of business and management tasks, such as data and business analysis, and about developers' changing roles in the enterprise.

Most developers embarked on their careers mainly because of their love of working with code and programming languages. While coding is still a major part of a developer's daily work, some enterprises call upon developers' skills to perform tasks not closely related to working with source code, such as business and data analysis, or even to identify how a business can make better use of its available data, according to Sybase's Loren Corbridge in this interview with Artima:

I think there is still going to be a role for developers, but it will be much more expanded, and it will involve a wider variety of tasks than are considered development [today]. There are still a group of people at IT who are developing new solutions, but those solutions may not look like building an application that does [a specific task]... There are many more developer-focused tasks now in enterprises, and that is going to change the role developers have in their organizations...

What I would do as a developer is to implement in myself higher-level skills than I had before. Coding is important, but ... if you understand coding and business logic, you can write good code in any language... [Developers] need to be popping up a level and looking at it really as if they were business analysts, thinking about, What does the business need? What's the best way to solve this problem? How do I get a more holistic view of what's in my system? What do I have out there that could be a service? How could I be linking these applications, and what can I be doing to provide business value to my company?

Click to download audio Loren Corbridge, senior product manager at Sybase, talks about developers' changing roles. (4 minutes 22 seconds)

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About the authors

Bill Venners is president of Artima, Inc. He is author of the book, Inside the Java Virtual Machine, a programmer-oriented survey of the Java platform's architecture and internals. His popular columns in JavaWorld magazine covered Java internals, object-oriented design, and Jini. Bill has been active in the Jini Community since its inception. He led the Jini Community's ServiceUI project, whose ServiceUI API became the de facto standard way to associate user interfaces to Jini services. Bill also serves as an elected member of the Jini Community's initial Technical Oversight Committee (TOC), and in this role helped to define the governance process for the community.

Frank Sommers is Editor-in-Chief of Artima Developer. He also serves as chief editor of the IEEE Technical Committee on Scalable Computing's newsletter, and is an elected member of the Jini Community's Technical Advisory Committee. Prior to joining Artima, Frank wrote the Jiniology and Web services columns for JavaWorld.