So is Domino RAD? I'd say yes. The reason? Because I can build a pretty functional application with the minimum amount of time and effort. There are some other questions though:
Is it easy? No.
Do XPages help? Yes.
Does it usually look good? Not really.
Is security really, really easy? Yes.
Is workflow easy? No.
Do I have to resort to frameworks to get shit done? No.
So in reality I can have an ugly, useful app with security in very little time. So what's the issue? Total Cost of Ownership or TCO.
You'd think given the amount of times IBM brings out the TCO bandwagon they would have measured their own application platforms against it. And by "platform" I mean Domino in this case. To point this out, I'm not even going to build an application......Let's take a freely available application from OpenNTF, Declan Lynch's xTalk. A very functional, nice looking discussion forum. It's free right? Erm.....
So let's say I want to roll this out to, for example a high school cheerleading squad. It's free right? No. You need to purchase a Domino server, maybe Utility Express, or maybe full blow Utility Server. At the low end that is $2,000 at the high end that could be $20,000. I have a variable TCO. No high school in their right mind is going to pay that for this application. It doesn't matter how good Declan makes it, the licensing model cripples any chances before the NSF is downloaded.
Now take this a step further, Sean Cull had a comment on Jake's blog:
It doesn't really matter if Domino is RAD if you can't afford to licence the Apps - have you tried selling a simple SAAS domino app to an organisation with > 1000 employees - even if only 20 use it ?
I know that IBM is keenly interested in this so if you can raise it with them and it affects you now or in the future then please do so.
Read that again....OK, you're back....If I am an ISV and I wish to sell my application to you I either have to go get Application Specific Licensing (ASL) or have you go for full licensing. Now, I have no knowledge of IBM ASL licensing costs and (shocker) the web site is no help. As Sean points out, just having 20 people of a 1,000 person organization is kind of insane. Forget Saas for now, there really is no licensing model where this works for Domino, or at least where you can have a wide (>2) choice of hosting providers.
Now lets look at innovation. Twitter, Tungle, Facebook. I'd say these are examples of innovative platforms. How much do you think it would cost to start this on Domino? Every new server, with 4 CPUs each with 6 cores? Yeah.....we're gonna see this on Domino right?
So Domino maybe RAD, it may have fully functional and simple to use security however since 2002 these have hardly been selling points. Hosting costs are selling points as they routinely count for a pretty big chunk of Domino's TCO. A quick Google for ".Net Hosting" yields this:
A whopping 2,760,000 entries, starting at $4.95 per month. With all these hosting providers wanting your business the prices are pushed down lowering your TCO, and Microsoft bask in the light of developer love. Domino? A meager 17,400 entries.
Don't get me wrong, I think Domino and XPages are vastly undervalued in terms of functionality by the rank and file of IT departments but to go around these people you need a pretty big wallet in the line of business. And that is a very hard pill to swallow.
We can go around and around with the merits of any platform, but when the up front costs puts you at a significant disadvantage don't be surprise to see your market shrink at an alarming rate.