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Programming Education

APIs, Not Apps: What the Future Will Be Like When Everyone Can Code 255

An anonymous reader writes: There's been a huge push over the last few years to make programming part of the core academic curriculum. Hype or not, software developer Al Sweigart takes a shot at predicting what this will be in a future where some degree of coding skill is commonplace and he has an interesting take on it: "More programmers doesn't just mean more apps in app stores or clones of existing websites. Universal coding literacy doesn't increase the supply of web services so much as increase the sophistication in how web services are used. Programming—by which I mean being able to direct a computer to access data, organize it, and then make decisions based on it— will open up not only a popular ability to make more of online services, but also to demand more.

Almost every major website has an Application Program Interface (API), a formal specification for software to retrieve data and make requests similar to human-directed browsers. ... The vast majority of users don't use these APIs—or even know what an API is—because programming is something that they've left to the professionals. But when coding becomes universal, so will the expectation that websites become accessible to more than just browsers."
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APIs, Not Apps: What the Future Will Be Like When Everyone Can Code

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  • by PolygamousRanchKid ( 1290638 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2015 @06:44PM (#50528361)

    . . . everyone will just think that they can code.

    Hey, I have a Black & Decker cordless drill! And a can of Spackle . . . I guess that makes me a dentist!

    • by Krishnoid ( 984597 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2015 @06:50PM (#50528399) Journal

      Sure, but it's better if you have some practical experience [youtube.com] first.

    • by mark-t ( 151149 )
      Not to be confused with when people can make code just by thinking.
    • by Dutch Gun ( 899105 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2015 @07:19PM (#50528545)

      The trend is actually reversing in some ways. Many kids are no longer interested in tinkering with PCs - which used to be a near requirement just to get them to work. They just see them as appliances now, about as interesting or exciting as their refrigerator, except for what it can DO for them. And it's often easier and more convenient for them to simply use their iPad.

      So, no, I just don't see a world in which everyone is a programmer. There will certainly be a lot MORE programmers than ever, but it will still be viewed as something of a black art by the rest of the population. It's no different than an auto mechanic in that regard. The average person nowadays opens the hood of their cars and their eyes glaze over. They have no idea how to fix anything in there, and they don't want to know. There are people who do that for a living, and it's far more efficient to simply pay someone else to fix it.

      Seriously, can you imagine an average person wanting to program something for themselves to scratch some itch, or do you think they'll just find a $5 app to take care of it for them? The second scenario sounds a hell of a lot more likely to me.

      • by Junta ( 36770 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2015 @07:55PM (#50528691)

        Exactly, *everyone* being able to code flies in the face of pretty much every other industry.

        Decades ago, everyone knew how to work on cars. In part because cars were more straightforward, but *mostly* because cars were so unreliable, you pretty much had to know how to work on it to be able to own one without going nuts. Nowadays a typical car maintenance schedule has a a recommended oil change every 8,000 miles or so and otherwise very little maintenance that hits a *typical* car. Tires and brakes wear out over a long period of time, but generally there's plenty of warning. A car suddenly not starting or general misbehavior is no longer that commonplace, so most people just leave it to a mechanic. Even things as dead simple as changing oil or even the air filter is perceived as a black art by most folks.

        Same for computing. If you had a system in the 70s or 80s, you essentially had to know how to program to be productive. As the software ecosystem has matured with canned applications targeting the use case of more and more and more usual situations, people just don't need to know that stuff anymore. As a portion of the computing population, programmers are less represented now than they were in the past. To imagine a reversal of that trend is silly.

        Some view programming as a sort of 'literacy', but that's more of the misnomer of programming as 'languages'. It's really not a form of literacy at all.

        • by chihowa ( 366380 )

          In part because cars were more straightforward, but *mostly* because cars were so unreliable...

          Cars back then actually weren't all that straightforward, which is a huge reason why they were so unreliable. Much of it is due to advances in materials, but electronic fuel management, spark advance, etc are much simpler and less fidgety designs that the mechanical kludges that used to be used. The physics behind a carburetor, for example, are fairly simple but keeping one well tuned has sent many the amateur mechanic over the edge!

          The tools you need to work on new cars are different, but well within the r

        • A programmer is to one who can code is as a mathematician is to one who can do algebra.

          If we put enough emphasis there could be plenty of people who could tie a couple of glue a couple of Apis together with a script to do some work.

        • by Dutch Gun ( 899105 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2015 @11:22PM (#50529451)

          In part because cars were more straightforward

          I grew up with a Honda Civic and an old Ford van in my family. As a youngster, whenever I looked under the hood, I marveled that people used to be able to work on cars themselves. I eventually got a chance to peek under the hood of some older car from the 60's (I forget the make/model), and I finally understood. Wow, cars engines were a LOT simpler back then, and what's more, the engine compartment wasn't nearly so cluttered. There was actually enough room to get in and work on things, and you could clearly see all the critical components of the engine and figure out how they worked for the most part.

          Early computers were a bit like this as well. Think about how simple and minimalist a command-line interface (when that's ALL you had) was compared to the layers and layers of abstraction you have in the OS today. There's no doubt both the hardware and software is vastly more powerful today, but I'd imagine it's actually quite a bit harder for a student today to get a real grasp on what the computer is actually doing at a fundamental level. There's simply a hell of a lot more to learn, so programmers are necessarily becoming specialists.

          I don't see this as a bad thing, because it simply means computers are reaching an appropriate level of maturity as devices intended for use by lay-persons, rather than exclusively by and for specialists. We "specialists" occasionally grumble about attempts to "dumb down" computers, but by and large, I think it's a good thing that computing is now ubiquitous, as it's added a tremendous amount of convenience to everyone's lives. And besides, the broader that market is, the more opportunity we have to earn a living writing software for the benefit of the masses.

        • Unless computers become AIs, they will never be able to deal with fuzzy logic and imprecise specifications. As XKCD said " No language will free you from the burden of having to clarify you ideas."

          To make a computer program you have to be able to formalize your ideas and present them in a logical format to the computer. Even when you have lots of tools to make the details easier, the fundamental requirement remains. You have to get the flow of your ideas in to a logical format that can become something an i

      • by mjwx ( 966435 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2015 @08:15PM (#50528783)

        The trend is actually reversing in some ways. Many kids are no longer interested in tinkering with PCs - which used to be a near requirement just to get them to work. They just see them as appliances now, about as interesting or exciting as their refrigerator, except for what it can DO for them. And it's often easier and more convenient for them to simply use their iPad.

        This.

        Computers are seen as appliances these days. In the future there will be fewer computer users who can program, not more.

        The same happened with everything we consider appliances now from refrigerators to cars. Not so long ago, being able to fix a washing machine or perform rudimentary maintenance on a car was almost mandatory for owning one, now these skills are rapidly disappearing as people need to call the AA (roadside assistance) to change a tyre.

      • That is just it. It isn't just a matter of can you understand what an if or for loop is. It IS a skill/psychological problem: you need be the type of person that wants to understand how things work all the way down to the metal, and stubborn enough to keep at it till you can get things to work. If anything the more easy to use computers become the more frustrating it will be to fix that 1% of remaining issues. It takes a special type of idiot to keep bashing their heads against the wall when things are alre

    • Amen! The bottleneck of coding is not getting a program to "work", but making it maintainable: easy to add or change requirements and easy to study (read) to fix.

      I've inherited "amateur" programs before, and they are often just not worth it. It was often less total resources to start from scratch.

      Now, I'm fine with small personal automation utilities, but it shouldn't be expected that if the author (newbie programmer) moves on to another job, that a regular programmer should be expected to maintain it.

      If it

      • by plover ( 150551 )

        Exactly. The difference between design and code is the difference between thermoplastic engineering and assembling a house out of Lego. And managing the dependencies means the difference between a proven clean API and code that has no chance of change short of total replacement.

        A future where everyone is a skript kiddie is one where every damn product will become completely fragile. You won't be able to buy a reliable alarm clock or a refrigerator that keeps your food consistently cold, because some stup

        • It is the exact problem I have with some "free" solutions.There are 1000 people that ever downloaded the thing with maybe 100 current users and 3 contributors. It either does what you want or you need to take the time to understand their code, or you need to keep looking. Script kiddies aren't just caused by amateur coders, they are caused by side projects we make without a proper business need/case. We make it to fill such a niche need that you either have to live with the limitations or move on to another

          • If everyone could code, there would be no need for 1000 people to download a program made by someone else, they would buld their own from scratch. Therefore reusability would be not as important as it is now.

            • Even worse, the computing industry is most likely not interested in the "democratization" of programming. Microsoft et al. have no reason to commit a business suicide and make themselves obsolete by simplifying anything related to everyday computing. After all, having people grown dependent on their current software offer has turned them into one of the largest software companies in the world. Clearly from the business perspective, having your users self-sufficient is a horrible idea.
      • by Darinbob ( 1142669 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2015 @08:10PM (#50528757)

        We had the problem back when Visual Basic came out, where every non-coding manager learned that coding was simple and that all the programmers were sandbagging and overpaid.

      • Yeah I'll get excited when most paid programmers can code. I'd say about 25% are reasonably competent and 10% are actually good. I too have done a lot of rewriting.

        One case was - the guy was a pretty good software architect, and a terrible coder. The overall system worked well and the structure made sense. It was extensible. But if you looked inside any function, the lines of code were all kinds of bad. They didn't know about 80% of the errors their code threw only because the other errors hid them.

        • There is bad code for sure. There is also bad architecture and feature specs. In my experience there are often very fuzzy business requirements, sometimes legitimately: the customer can't tell you what they need they just ask for something "better". Example something I'm currently dealing with: the customer asks to be able to add multiple addresses instead of one to each order. Well is there only one address of a given type allowed (postal, physical, fax, etc) or an arbitrary number of each type? If so how

          • The customer never knows what he wants and even more they do not know what they need. That is why they hire software developers to do that. If they really knew what they need, they could just write it themselves. That is why we need social skills, because we have to be able to understand other humans and translate that into software.

    • by hawguy ( 1600213 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2015 @07:41PM (#50528635)

      . . . everyone will just think that they can code.

      Hey, I have a Black & Decker cordless drill! And a can of Spackle . . . I guess that makes me a dentist!

      I don't understand the big push to get everyone to code -- not everyone *wants* to code, nor should they have to. Not everyone knows how to grow their own food, fix their own car, build their own house, and they don't need to - there are specialists for all of those that are better trained and more skilled at it and will do a much better job. Some people may grow a small garden or tinker with cars as a hobby, but few people are capable of effectively growing food for their family or overhauling an engine. Just some people may enjoy creating small (or even large) software projects for fun, but not everyone wants to.

      • And this "coding" isn't what many people would call coding. There are people out there who seriously think that creating a web page is coding, or packaging up a URL inside some XML and calling it an app is coding.

      • Amen to that. I both don't think it is possible: not everyone has the temperament to stick with a problem for several days till they figure something out, nor desirable (there are a lot of dumb people out there (or at least dumb when it comes to tech)) for everyone to code. I want my lawyer to focus on kicking ass at being a lawyer, by doctor to focus on kicking ass at making me healthier etc. We ain't the only profession that will matter in the future no matter how much tech is around, there is still going

      • > I don't understand the big push to get everyone to code -- not everyone *wants* to code, nor should they have to.

        Not everyone wants to write novels, why would they want to learn to write?

        There's a sense of freedom in being able to solve your own problems without having to delegate the solution to a professional. There are lots of small, day-to-day tasks that could benefit from being automated, i.e. triggered under conditions set up by the users themselves (anything beyond "set an alarm off" is beyond t

    • Hey, I have a Black & Decker cordless drill! And a can of Spackle . . . I guess that makes me a dentist!

      Or a gynecologist.

  • by Frnknstn ( 663642 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2015 @06:46PM (#50528373)

    So with this API stuff, what you are proposing is that all systems should be divided up into functional blocks, where every block has a single logical purpose, and that savvy users are able to chain these functions together however they see fit to suit their purposes?

    Where have I heard this idea before? Oh yeah... it's called The Unix Philosophy.

    • No, no, no. The Unix philosophy is old. Think guys with ponytails way longer than they should have them.

      This is different because it will be SHINY. And patent pending, trademarked and protected by copyright until you can't do a damned thing without paying extra for the privilege.

      Get with the program. You're probably a socialist.

    • by CRCulver ( 715279 ) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Tuesday September 15, 2015 @07:06PM (#50528479) Homepage

      Where have I heard this idea before? Oh yeah... it's called The Unix Philosophy.

      Indeed. I've been using Linux since the turn of the millennium, but in the last couple of years I've been trying to gain a more proficient command of Unix standard utils and piping commands with tutorials like O'Reilly's Classic Shell Scripting [amazon.com] . I feel like a computing god, and friends and relatives are baffled at how I can so quickly solve computing needs that, they believed, would have to take minutes or hours of laborious pointing and clicking.

      And that's why I find the premise of this article so odd. The average public does not seem to me on the cusp of a programming revolution. I might as well link here to Philip Guo's essay The Two Cultures of Computing [pgbovine.net], a.k.a. "How Ya Gonna Get 'Em Down on UNIX After They've Seen Spotify?". The interfaces ordinary people use so hide hackability that they generally forget it even exists.* Plus, with people in the developing world starting to do more and more of their computing on their phone, a device without a real keyboard, they are hardly able to do all the typing that coding requires.

      (Perversely, this might be something that millions of people should be thankful for: that ignorance is why they still have jobs. So much time-consuming work could be done in a much shorter time were the Unix philosophy applied. If scripting were something that managers keen on every possible costsaving measure were strongly aware of, even more jobs would be automated away.)

      • In place of "people in the developing world", I actually meant to write "in the developed world", but in fact, it makes no difference. Android phones (even if they have to be bought on credit) are increasingly common even in the Third World that a decade or two ago would have seemed the antithesis of technological.
      • My basic IT interview question is give them an example task and how often it will happen and see how they document it. The bad have notes that end up like click ok next next do this etc so that it's specific to a particular UI and minor changes invalidate it and do things via the UI. The good tend to make scripts or one liners. It's not even unix centric anymore. Take a basic task of adding a user to AD and assign a primary SMTP address and a couple aliases you can use AD's gui and then pop open ASDIedi

    • by ADRA ( 37398 )

      Well, more relevantly, it was that Yahoo based web services mixin project that they shuddered recently (a year maybe)? Never used it, but it was an interesting idea that alas I heard about as they were murdering it.... =/

  • by nmpg ( 4032029 )
    "But when coding becomes universal, so will the expectation that websites become accessible to more than just browsers" That's just not true. Website want you to go to the ... you guessed it, the website! Do you really think everyone will offer access to content without making you see these pesky ads? Ain't gonna happen dude.
    • "But when coding becomes universal, so will the expectation that websites become accessible to more than just browsers" That's just not true. Website want you to go to the ... you guessed it, the website!

      Do you really think everyone will offer access to content without making you see these pesky ads?

      Ain't gonna happen dude.

      Yes, because in the future, where everybody codes and everything on the web is a service, you won't have ads. You'll just pay directly for the services you want to access.

      • Re:No. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by alexhs ( 877055 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2015 @07:32PM (#50528599) Homepage Journal

        you won't have ads. You'll just pay directly for the services you want to access.

        I thought that if American cable TV ever taught us anything, it is that you will end up paying for the service and have ads.

      • I am not a programmer and i know that ads are not just to cover the cost of a site those who think so are very wrong. You will be forced to buy the program AND you will also get ads with it because ads bring MORE money, MORE profits. Just look at any magazine subscription that's a service and in that magazine how many pages are ads? half or more. so you theory of service means no ads is a pipe dream. HBO has ads,magazines have ads,newspapers have ads,netflix WILL have ads.
  • You can't lower the bar much more without crushing a foot.
    You can lead a horse [99-bottles-of-beer.net] to water [99-bottles-of-beer.net], but you cannot make it drink [99-bottles-of-beer.net].
  • by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2015 @06:53PM (#50528413) Journal

    The assertion seems to be that since code will be ubiquitous, then everyone will learn to code is provably silly.
    Cars have become universal, yet the ability to fix them decreases with every generation.
    Literacy is nearly universal now, would anyone assert that people write better now than they did 100 years ago?
    Let's use even a code-like example: mods for first person shooter...the modding community used to be robust for these games but as the level of quality and complexity of the games have improved, I'd posit that the modders have (largely) disappeared; it just takes to much time/effort for hobbyists to make something comparably decent that doesn't look like crap compared to professionally produced levels.

    • Cars have become universal, yet the ability to fix them decreases with every generation.

      A big reason for that, is there is less that can go wrong. A fuel injector is much more reliable than a carburetor. My wife has an electric car. There is no oil, no radiator, no transmission, etc. Even the brake pads don't need to be replaced, because of regenerative braking. It is nearly maintenance free, and there is almost nothing that can go wrong.

      Literacy is nearly universal now, would anyone assert that people write better now than they did 100 years ago?

      Yes, I would assert that. The average person today is almost certainly a better writer than the average person a century ago.

      I'd posit that the modders have (largely) disappeared

      We organized an after schoo

    • We've seen this a couple of times before. BASIC, the thing with the turtles, even HTML.

      First off nobody cares. This is especially true for large values of nobody. If it requires much more mental effort than breathing, most people do not want to interact with anything or anybody. There are already APIs for much of everything. But, surprise, they're complicated. It takes study and smarts to use them.

      And that is the big problem. The coding is left to professionals because it's too complex to leave to an

      • by PRMan ( 959735 )
        And most Access applications turned into absolute nightmares for the company as they outgrew the toy database.
    • Agreed.

      API's are just one piece necessary for a committed individual to be able to accomplish something. Even with well documented API's the average Joe just wants stuff to work. If I have to go learn a dozen API's just to make a sandwich, I won't.

      Learning to code does not mean you are magically omnipotent. As a microwave design engineer I have coded a fair number of things for work along the way, but if I revert to writing code most of my daily work I will immediately be far behind schedule. Each API i

    • by vux984 ( 928602 )

      The assertion seems to be that since code will be ubiquitous, then everyone will learn to code is provably silly.

      Silly yes. Provably silly? I don't know about provably.

      But even if they TAUGHT everyone to code in school they still wouldn't know how. How many adults can still do high school math?

      Cars have become universal, yet the ability to fix them decreases with every generation.

      Decent example. But I'd have just pointed at pants. Those are ubiquitous too. How many people do you know that could make a pair? Or even repair them? Hem them? Replace a button?

      I think the average persons ability to write code will be on par with their expertise with clothing. They'll be able to get dressed, and that's about it

      • Decent example. But I'd have just pointed at pants. Those are ubiquitous too. How many people do you know that could make a pair? Or even repair them? Hem them? Replace a button?

        I think the average persons ability to write code will be on par with their expertise with clothing. They'll be able to get dressed, and that's about it.

        That is exactly right! Lots of people love clothes and fashion, it's ubiquitous like technology...however very few people are interested in (or capable of) actually making clothes.

      • But I'd have just pointed at pants. Those are ubiquitous too. How many people do you know that could make a pair? Or even repair them? Hem them? Replace a button?

        Then I guess I must be in a minority. I've replaced buttons on store-bought clothes. I've even made my own pants, but they have a drawstring closure instead of a button closure because I haven't learned buttonholes yet. And before I learned pants, I was making ankle-length shirts [pineight.com] to wear.

        Well... Mario Maker launched last week.... I'd say the number of average people designing game levels has quite possibly spiked to an all time high. ;)

        For one thing, this is Nintendo catching up to where Sony was years ago with LittleBigPlanet. For another, around the launch of Super Mario Maker, Nintendo went on a DMCA takedown streak on YouTube [destructoid.com], handing out copyright st

      • by PRMan ( 959735 )
        Nintendo just took down all the previous hobbyist videos where they were making levels with an engine unrelated to Nintendo.
    • "Cars have become universal, yet the ability to fix them decreases with every generation."

      I basically agree with you, but your comparation is wrong. The ability to fix cars decreases with every generation among other things, because cars are -on purpose, no less, more and more difficult to fix, not even by amateurs but for professionals too, the last iteration trying to lock you out not only technically but legally too.

      This could potentially be different about programing:
      1) The computer world could still b

  • and code will learn you.
  • by Dcnjoe60 ( 682885 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2015 @07:10PM (#50528501)

    If we have AI good enough to drive a car by itself, then surely, we will have AI good enough to access the online services that the article is talking about. Instead of a future where everybody knows how to code, wouldn't it be better to create one where nobody needs to code?

    • by ADRA ( 37398 )

      Code is just an expression of thought, and regardless of how that is expressed, you'll have people chaining together multiple facets of information and processes to make something coherent. There's hundreds if not thousands of DSL's which express coding constructs into something a little more akin to a basic human comprehension. Maybe we'll just be able to talk to computers to have the information 'figured out' based on my needs in a universal way, but we're a long way off from that point IMHO.

      • I can't disagree with your observations, but I do have a positive perspective to add. Imagine that you wanted a way to measure wireless signal strength as you deployed your first wireless network in 1997. You'd need to buy special equipment where today, you just download an app. The 1997 person might want a calculator at the gas pump, requiring planning ahead to have the right equipment, but today you can just pull out your phone to use the built-in app.

        Today the average end user doesn't buy a newspaper, co

        • Imagine that you wanted a way to measure wireless signal strength as you deployed your first wireless network in 1997. You'd need to buy special equipment where today, you just download an app.

          Since when does iOS have a public API to determine signal strength? Last time I checked, it didn't, and Apple's App Store forbids use of non-public APIs. This is why WiFi-Where was removed [slashdot.org]. iPhone and iPad users end up needing to buy "special equipment" in the form of an Android phone because unlike iOS, Android has public Wi-Fi APIs.

    • If we have AI good enough to drive a car by itself, then surely, we will have AI good enough to access the online services that the article is talking about. Instead of a future where everybody knows how to code, wouldn't it be better to create one where nobody needs to code?

      I think most of us will live to see a day when we need about as many computer programmers as blacksmiths.

      • by narcc ( 412956 )

        What makes you think we're any closer to Kuzweil's delusional fantasy than were 60 years ago?

  • by ravenscar ( 1662985 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2015 @07:29PM (#50528583)

    The fact that a primary education provides a basic understanding of a thing doesn't mean that your're suddenly proficient to the point that you use it, in depth, in your daily life. Even if you could, it doesn't mean you'd want to.

    Maybe I'm wrong.
    People get a basic understanding of Biology so they don't need doctors.
    People get a basic understanding of Chemistry so they just purchase elements and make their own chemical compounds (who buys soap when you can make it?).
    People (might) get a basic understanding of music so they simply put on their own performances.
    Right?

    • by fermion ( 181285 )
      I recall using the MS DOS and AppleDOS hooks and pokes to do some pretty fancy things at the time. Frankly, the ease of programming from about 1980 to 2000 increased so quickly that it became difficult for minimally educated people, even if they were talented, to make a living at it. There were simply too many people around willing to code for nothing, and the tools to make sure those less qualified people did a reasonable job became increasingly effective. For that matter, gates became so much cheaper t
    • > Basic understanding doesn't equate to daily use

      That's what medieval monks said with respect to everybody being able to read and write.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 15, 2015 @07:33PM (#50528603)

    Website and services have been moving *away* from giving away API access for free. Twitter doesn't want third-party devs to write Twitter clients; they want to control the experience end-to-end. There's a few reasons off the top of my head:

    • Companies can break private APIs at any time; public APIs are expected to remain stable and maintained
    • Companies that rely on advertising want to be able to insert ads, or prevent clients from stripping out ads (e.g. promoted tweets)
    • Companies don't want to dilute the value of their service. It'd be cool if I could build my own traffic alert system using the same data as Google Now, even if I have to pay for it, but Google would rather have you stick solely to Google devices, apps, and websites

    In short, companies like Apple and Google and others would frequently rather build their own apps rather than allow third parties to "mash up" or build innovative new apps using their services and data (which in many cases is really the user's data).

  • Sure, just like when they teached automotive repair in high school, every student left repairing their own cars!

    And when they teached shop in middle school, every student left being able to build their own houses! Magnificent!

    Just because something is force-taught to kids, does not mean the majority will pick it up after school. The vast majority will take their C+ or B-, move onto the next class, and forget everything they learned before the year is even over.

    I agree that giving the kids the option to lear

    • by Jawnn ( 445279 )

      Sure, just like when they teached automotive repair in high school, every student left repairing their own cars!

      And when they teached shop in middle school, every student left being able to build their own houses! Magnificent!

      How about we bring back basic grammar lessons, and see that it is teached as well? Normally, I love such irony, but this just makes me sad.

      • Wonderful example of why this won't work. You point out a trivial typo, yet you understood what was meant. An API won't.
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2015 @07:45PM (#50528649)

    Two words: Visual Basic.

    That's what it's going to be like. Every shitty webpage, just like every shitty office suite in the past, will come with its tailor-made API that allows people to develop basic cargo-cult, copy/paste "programming" skills. People will just do that. And that's basically going to be it.

    Nothing will change. People will look at something that does what they want to do, copy the code from there (usually without attributing the source or contributing anything to it) and slap together an ugly, frankenstein-esque monstrosity that will more by accident and chance produce something that, provided no special case happens, do more or less what they intend to do, with more or less accuracy.

    In other words, nothing new to see here, please move along.

  • by Jawnn ( 445279 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2015 @07:46PM (#50528657)
    When would that be, Al? Come on. Put down the pipe and back away. Most people can't even figure out how to use their fucking turn signals, and you think they'll somehow magically become programmers.
  • I think there'll still be apps, but things will evolve to having apps in parallel with APIs. For example, for an appointment-management service there'll be an app (or more than one, eg. a webapp for desktop use and a mobile app or mobile-optimized webapp for phone/tablet use) for customers who just want to let clients make appointments and want to be able to manage those appointments and don't need a lot of customization. There'll also be API access that would let customers get at the basic operations (with

  • There are always going to be people who are, to put it bluntly, thick as shit and have absolutely no aspirations to increase their intelligence level.
  • This isn't an exact analogy, but calculus is more than 250 years old, and it's not like everyone is doing calculus. In fact, never mind calculus: there are plenty of people who, though they have sat in an algebra class, don't get even rudimentary algebra. So, why are we imagining that someday everyone is going to code?

    • by narcc ( 412956 )

      Because programming is far simpler than even basic algebra.

      We teach reading, writing, and arithmetic as well. An absurd majority of students manage to graduate both literate and numerate.

  • When everyone can code there will be no such thing as a "web service" API because enough people would have been smart enough to spend their time developing useful transports rather than always relying on the lowest common denominator/lowest hanging fruit (e.g. http).

    When everyone can code APIs will be designed properly as abstract interfaces that will not break every time something changes.

    When everyone can code people will leverage the Internet to communicate directly among themselves as they see fit on th

    • by Lennie ( 16154 )

      "When everyone can code there will be no such thing as a "web service" API because enough people would have been smart enough to spend their time developing useful transports rather than always relying on the lowest common denominator/lowest hanging fruit (e.g. http)."

      I think this is an interesting discussion, but only if you are looking at the future. Because I'm much more optimistic about the future of http.

      First off, yes it would be good to have certain applications use their own protocol.

      But having a st

  • There will never be a time when specialized programmers are unnecessary.... NEVER...

    Fredrick Brooks, "The Mythical Man Month" needs to be consulted by those who think otherwise... His sage advice is a true today as it was in the 70's when he wrote that book, all that's changed is the names on the technologies.

    Yea, you might have a rash of folks who can drive the mouse around, but you will need the specialized skills working behind that UI to keep it all working...

  • Because it worked out so well when we got everyone "programming" their own stuff in Excel and Access.

    • by narcc ( 412956 )

      The spreadsheet was empowering. It's what drove the microcomputer in to the business world. It's still an irreplaceable tool today. For every overgrown nightmare workbook, there are millions of others empowering users and driving the companies forward.

      Access is what allowed many small businesses to succeed well enough to outgrow all those "awful" Access databases you hear horror stories about. I've replaced quite a few over the years. Some far worse than others. Still, without those ugly kludges, the

  • So many people today have the ability to take videos. And yes they do a bit for personal use but they mostly stick with pictures. However we are still consumers of video content for most of the time. Why would this be different with computers? I'm not going to write every app I need from a set of APIs. How many of us do that now? The average person is still going to get a game with the great graphics and physics engine from some company. You aren't going to put that together yourself with a bunch of

  • But when coding becomes universal, so will the expectation that websites become accessible to more than just browsers.

    Now tell me why, as a designer/owner of a website, I should give a shit if someone wants me to provide something other than the web page I've provided already. No one shopping on Amazon - or reading one of my fables - has any need (and probably much less desire to code) accesses to the data otherwise. Make the argument something more substantial than "Information wants to be free, man."

  • I'm sure this future feels a lot closer in San Francisco.
  • Oh for christ's sake (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JustAnotherOldGuy ( 4145623 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2015 @09:57PM (#50529155)

    "What the Future Will Be Like When Everyone Can Code"

    This is NEVER going to happen. Stop trying to make it happen. It doesn't NEED to happen. FFS, not everyone needs to know how to "code".

    Replace the word "Code" in the title with nearly any activity and you'll immediately see how fucking stupid it is. For example:

    What the Future Will Be Like When Everyone Can Wire A House
    What the Future Will Be Like When Everyone Can Ride A Unicycle
    What the Future Will Be Like When Everyone Can Crochet
    What the Future Will Be Like When Everyone Can Mow The Lawn
    What the Future Will Be Like When Everyone Can Adjust A Carburetor
    What the Future Will Be Like When Everyone Can Solder
    What the Future Will Be Like When Everyone Can Read An X-Ray

    Enough already. Please stop with this delusion that everyone needs to code or even wants to.

  • by bigsexyjoe ( 581721 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2015 @12:04AM (#50529551)

    Ugg. The future where it's all API's is already here. The fact is learning API's is often a pain in the ass. Maybe most people could code if you told them they would be killed in five years if they didn't learn to code, but no, we are not moving towards everyone being able to code, or everyone even being that computer savvy, or people knowing how to turn their problems into specific algorithms.

  • I hear some ludicrous predictions for the future all the time. This pretty much takes the cake. There is no concern whatsoever that all or a majority of people could possibly be proficient enough programmers to interface usefully with arbitrary API's from day to day.

    Recall that the majority of people cannot pass a basic algebra class. Just the idea of a variable is beyond about half of people. I'd be happy if most people just got educated enough about programming to realize how friggin' ludicrous this predi

  • I doubt that we will be awash in coders as a result of high school literacy in code.

    This is much the same that a high school curriculum of science, math, language arts does not make the world flush with chemists, engineers, theoretical mathematicians. What it does create is a community that has a level of appreciation, and the potential to specialize in that particular field.

    Think of it as having a whole lot of engineers that have become managers. They can still code if they needed to, but generally won't

  • ...when anybody can service their car. ...when anybody can be a surgeon. ...when anybody can be a hooker...oh wait. Dumb article.

People who go to conferences are the ones who shouldn't.

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