Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Todd Rafferty Responds
Recently, there was an article on Builder.com by Matt Liotta, in which Matt insinuated (among other things) that Macromedia does not care about the ColdFusion developer community. I had not responded to Matt's article because so many other developers, from both the Flash and the ColdFusion communities, had commented already on Builder.com, arguing against his conclusions.

Well, it seems I don't have to respond at all. Todd Rafferty (co-founder of DevMX.com) has posted a well-reasoned and well-written response to Matt's article. Rather than add more fuel to the fire, I'm going to post a link to his article here.


My reaction / response to Matt Liotta's "Macromedia's Struggle" (Todd Rafferty, November 25, 2002)

posted @ 12:50 PM EST [link] [No Comments]

The Care and Feeding of a Programmer (Part I): Developer vs. Programmer
I've been a party to many arguments over what makes someone a "developer" vs. a "programmer." The argument usually starts off, innocently enough, with a discussion of best practices. The first person (let's call him "P1" for short), with the best of intentions, wants to share some of what he feels one needs to become a better programmer. Because he's learned the XYZ method of documenting his code, and it's always helped him create clean, organized apps, he enthusiastically shares that method. He has learned a few tricks of the trade as well, and feels that CFScript, for instance, is far superior to coding in plain vanilla CF.

Along comes the second person in this argument (let's call her P2 for short.) P2 has a completely different method of documenting her code and feels that P1's method takes too much time and is not as clear as her own, home grown system.

By this time, the discussion has attracted several new people, all vying to show what they consider their best practices. Unfortunately, rather than discuss different programming methods and what each of them might bring to the mix, they are now hooked on the qualities that separate the poor unthinking drone, typing in a stupor and doing his work by rote, with the more elegant and sophisticated creative coder. And they have developed words to describe their distinctions. These words most often are "developer" and "programmer."

What is a developer, and what is a programmer? It's funny but, as much as I love these kind of discussions (almost as much as I love making fun of them), I find that very rarely do people agree on the meanings of these terms. These conversations on best practices are helpful in exposing different techniques that may help you code cleaner and better, but the ambiguity of any descriptive labels that emerge may do more to cloud the issue than to clear it up.

The "developer vs. programmer" flame war is but a symptom of a greater problem. It's similar to the "CF is better than ASP" or "Fusebox is better than non-Fusebox" fights (and, conversely, the "Fusebox stinks" mindset) that I sometimes see cropping up on the various CF lists. This "my way or no way" attitude is really symptomatic of a closed-mindedness that I would love to see eliminated altogether in the developer communities.

Instead of making such blanket statements, we would be better off saying things like "CF is better [for me] than ASP, because ...." We could say "Fusebox works better [for me] than any other methodology because ...." And then we might be more open-minded about other aspects of programming that we could even incorporate into our tried-and-true and time-tested methods. In this climate, where web programmers are expected to know so many different languages and skills, it's more important than ever to keep growing in your knowledge and your understanding of how to program any kind of application.

Making broad, blanket statements about systems of programming inherently casts a shadow on a development community that should be more united right now, especially in the face of the economic problems the industry is experiencing. More than ever, we need to approach our profession with an open mind. Believe it or not, this could make the difference in landing (or losing) your next contract.

posted @ 12:19 PM EST [link] [No Comments]
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MX-Related Blogs:
Todd Rafferty's Blog
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Mike Chamber's Blog
Waldo Smeets' Blog
Bob Tartar's Blog

Blogs on Programming:
Joel on Software

Fun and Interesting Blogs on Anything:
Peter David: Writer of Stuff
Glenn Hauman's Blog
Malibulist Blog (A Bunch of Interesting Writers)
Boing Boing
Brad Delong's Website (Economics and other Topics)
Theresa Nielsen Hayden: Making Light
Patrick Nielsen Hayden: Electrolite
Neil Gaiman's Blog
Wil Wheaton Dot Net


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