One outcome of virtualisation, of servers and of desktops, has been an increased emphasis on applications: “it’s all about the apps”. A large percentage of IT users, perhaps everyone not working in IT directly only needs to run the apps they need to get their job done. Any more than that just gets in the way.

There are however, no industry standards when it comes to applications that I am aware of. This is a symptom of the immaturity of the industry as a whole. Apps are currently tightly bound to platforms, i.e. vendors, whether of the platform or the application itself.

What would make everyone’s life easier are standards which say “you close an app like this”, or “you save data like this” or “standard menu entries are …”.

Not only would this make user’s lives easier but it would make application writer’s lives easier too. At present, to code a user interface, a programmer may have to trade off functionality against over-complicating the interface and making it too difficult to learn or un-intuitive to use. If more standards existed, a programmer could assume more knowledge on the user’s part.

To take the best interface ideas (which is a hugely competitive area) and make them standards would be a big, and unlikely step forward in the near future.

Further ahead I can envisage apps being coded to a “standardisation level: 1,2,3 etc.” And user’s being trained to use apps coded at a certain level. In a sense, similar to standardisation of IT infrastructure through e.g. ITIL but for apps.

At the moment, I don’t think there’s even a way to measure an application to gauge how easy it is to use or how “divergent” it is from a notional standard.

An interesting area though, and certainly worthy of further research,