What is a Situational Application?
First, think about Situated Software. Google it. The basic idea is software development for a small group of users with specific needs and typically short timeframes and tiny budgets, without all the planning and designing for large scale, long lifetime, legacy integrated, cross platform, …you get the idea…, deployment.
Situational Applications are typically developed within the group where they are used, often by the user’s themselves. Lots of Situational Apps are written by programmers for themselves and other programmers, with UN*X shell scripts being an ancient and common example. Early experiences with LotusScript are a more recent example where small groups and departments developed their own applications independent of the corporate IT department. Today more and more end users who are not professional programmersare developing web applications that better fit their own needs. A simple example is a wiki, where the users can create and modify the pages and their content. No programmer has to decide ahead of time what the topics of interest will be or the structureand layout of the pages. The users evolve something over time that suites their needs within the time budget they have to invest in the site. Now apply that process to application development of other kinds. Several studies have shown that when end usersare empowered to develop their own solutions to their own needs, they happily and enthusiastically do so. Not by starting with UML or OO or UCD or any other industrial-strength methodology. They mostly muddle through with whatever tools they have readily available until they have something that fits their purpose in a manner “good enough” to pause developing and start using. Then they often modify the application continually as their particular situation changes. Not your typical IT software lifecycle, to be sure.