The most dynamic segment of the software industry that I'm aware of is web programming. Flamewars rage about frameworks and browsers and standards and whatnot, and the openness of the whole thing feels like some of the things that made me fall in love with computing as a whole and Free Software in particular. The problem with all that openness is that it's rather difficult to navigate. Aside from the obvious issues with browser incompatibilities, there's an enormous amount of software solutions on the server side, spanning languages, libraries, and frameworks. Each one is an ecosystem to itself, often being large and complicated.
Something interesting that seems to be happening is that people are moving to decrease this cognitive burden. One good example is the Google Web Toolkit
and Rhino on Rails
(the latter of which I hope sees the light of day).
, which could be wrapped in a more capable shell with a good FFI, and we could easily have wrappers to our favorite Free Software libraries. This project
seems far along here, but it's currently very windows-centric.
There's a lot of potential here though. Unifying the development language for both web and system apps would benefit the Free Software desktop, and give us the ability to better integrate our stuff with the web. One of the best things about Free Software is that it dropped the barrier to entry in software development. I think we can repeat that success again here.