Archive for April, 2013


My nephew starts secondary school later this year but is already conversant with Scratch – a graphical programming environment which allows for drag and drop program creation. It is now being taught in school.

The fact we have kids new to secondary school being taught programming seems pretty impressive to me and can only be good for the industry in the long run. I’ll leave that to you to think about, though.

Scratch is interesting on a number of fronts. It allows for quick creation of graphical animations (Sprites) and therefore looks to be a great way of getting kids interested. If like me, you have been around a bit you will think about similarities with Logo, though it doesn’t look like there is much shared heritage.

Secondly, the development environment is truly visual – see below. At long last we may be on the way to having programming environments that don’t require extensive typing of code but instead a drag-and-drop approach.

Perhaps this could be called Visual Studio?

Scratch width=

The other day I was talking to one of my fellow BAs that I hadn’t seen for a while. After some general conversation about our projects and business processes, he bemoaned that “it is not for IT to tell the business how to do their jobs”.

I have heard people use this phrase before but I don’t find it any less alarming. To explain to people in ‘the business’ (a phrase I hate, by the way) not only how they should do their jobs, but to train and educate them, is EXACTLY what IT should be doing.

If we can’t do this, it is often for two reasons. Either we can’t because of time constraints and priorities, or we can’t because we lack knowledge to do so. Either are appalling: It is like phoning up Panasonic for product advice and be told “we don’t understand our products. We let the customers work out for themselves how best to use them, and we ask them if we have queries”.

Bizarre.

To give the person in question the benefit of the doubt, perhaps what he meant was that ‘the business’ should be free to innovate and change and it isn’t for others to impose rules, structure and explanation that might undermine the innovation. This sounds convincing at first, except that in the modern era, technology is in itself the innovator. Innovation isn’t brought about by the traditional ‘business’ making ‘requests’. It is about technology taking the lead. Nobody ‘requested’ the Internet after all, and it wasn’t on someone’s business requirements list.

In my view, this conversation is indicative of how IT is increasingly seen as a detached and remote ‘supplier’ of services and solutions – often only reluctantly engaged as a last resort or late in the day. This is a terrible situation and certainly not one that motivated me to enter the profession.