There are basically two kinds of technology: Stuff that’s exciting but completely untested and potentially unreliable (think self-driving cars), and well-supported, well-understood stuff that is generally considered to be boring (think city buses).
The same is true when it comes to programming.
Salesforce’s Heroku, a cloud computing platform that makes it easier to run applications from its massive data centres at huge scales, thinks it has the answer: Heroku Elements, an app store that tells businesses when cutting-edge tools are safe to use.
If you read sites like Hacker News and Stack Overflow, there are new programming languages and tools released seemingly every day, and developers are eager to try them — but there’s no guarantee that they’re actually viable, let alone safe or secure to run in a real-life app.
This puts businesses in a tricky spot. Developers want to put these hot new technologies into all their apps. But if you try something new, and it results in the website going down for four hours because it’s vulnerable to a cyberattack or simply incompatible, that’s a lot of upset customers. Businesses can’t always afford to take the risk, and it’s incredibly time-consuming for companies to do the testing themselves.
The driving idea is pretty simple. Heroku Elements gives you the option to try and buy not only a bunch of different bits and pieces that can be worked into an app, but it also tells you what other bits and pieces work well with it.
For example, if your app is written in the popular PHP programming language, you’re going to want to make sure that any other components for an app you buy work well with that language. To that end, customers can choose between services from 1,500 vendors like application monitoring company New Relic and content delivery network Fastly.
The other important thing Heroku Elements does is tell you how many people are actually using the component in question for their real-life business apps. It’s one thing for developers to test something out, but businesses are naturally risk-adverse and want to make sure they’re not the first ones to try something.
“‘Who’s putting it in production?’ is a really common question,” says Kerstiens.
With that data, businesses can worry less about whether or not something that’s new is also good.
“You can get back to writing and building apps,” says Kerstiens.