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Are we on the downhill side yet?

07/21/05

Permalink 12:00:11 pm, by admin Email , 517 words   English (US)
Categories: IT, Python

Are we on the downhill side yet?

Ryan Tomayko hits one out of the park with his post, Motherhood and Apple Pie. It is the best summary I have read of the state of affairs in software development today, and the competing directions which Sanity and the Vendors are taking.

I found myself thinking, however, that I've been programming professionally now for, what, six years? And it was only with my rather recent move to Python that I really started to dig into "protocols and formats such as HTTP, URIs, MIME, HTML, and even XML (sometimes), and architectures such as REST", or fully understand (and use!) "MVC, ORM, frameworks, test- and domain-driven development". And, not to toot my own horn in any way, but I'm a pretty smart guy; what I mean is, I'm not your average programmer. My guess is that the "average programmers", and their managers, follow the vendors rather blindly because:

  1. they haven't been introduced to some of these more abstract concepts yet, either because they're inexperienced, or are operating on too small a scale, or
  2. they're not smart enough to "get it" when they are introduced to such things.

Even the best programmers spend some time in category 1, as they take time to learn each new concept. I certainly have, and continue to do so. But my hunch is that we've seen a large number of professional programmers in category 2 due to the dot-com glut. Programming, and especially software design, takes a certain set of traits: a good memory, a knack for system organization, the ability to focus, to get into the "flow". But the blitz of advertising in the nineties to "get a high-paying job in computers" has resulted in a majority of programmers who don't have the personality to reach for something better. Quite the opposite, in fact—in my experience, there are some personalities (and lifestyles) that favor having solutions pushed to you, rather than being researched and selected ("pulled") by a more informed process. It's a mistake to believe that only the latter involves reason and judgment; it's simply a different set of factors steering that judgment. But it seems software design is one of those industries which benefits from more people pulling, and less pushing/being pushed to.

My hope is that we are on the downhill side of that glut: witness the recent slide in Computer Science degrees (and careers). The "throw programmers at the problem/product" strategy worked well during the dot-com boom, but doesn't last during the leaner years. I think we'll start to see a return to Sanity, on average, which will result in a swing back toward better design and tools. IMO the current buzz around LAMP stacks, Ruby on Rails, "less is more", DSL's, etc are indicative of that. But I admit I may be blinded by my own learning process, and am projecting what I learn into "what the industry is learning".

Hmmm.

1 comment

Comment from: tc [Visitor]
  1. are smart enough but just not interested in new technology's.

    It's about passion,talent and persistence.
    you need a bit,or a lot ;) of all.


07/21/05 @ 14:48

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