Friday, June 30, 2006

"If I Didn't Develop it Custom from Scratch, it's No Good"

It's time for developers to lose the "if I didn't develop it custom from scratch, it's no good" attitude. The other day, we were all sitting around at an internal technology presentation when suddenly, one of my collegues remarks snidely, "...with all these drag-and-drop, code-generating wizards driving development, are my .Net developers going to be writing code anymore?" Another collegue presented .Net Mobile 5.0 and all the new enhancements within Visual Studio 2005. Following the theme of "get developers away from developing plumbing and "every project needs _____ (logging, exception handling, data access, etc.)" code", these Microsoft tools take away many of the headaches involved with mobile development for the Windows Mobile platform.

Get over yourself! Code generators, IDE drag-and-drop functionality, and open/shared source frameworks serve as strong examples of industry innovation. One might be a strong coder/programmer but I believe it's both arrogant and ignorant to think these tools aren't as good as what you can whip up in a day. Bullcrap. If you still think this way then go take your laptop off to a deserted island (you'll want to pack a solar converter) and build applications in a vaccume. Your, user will adore you. I can guarantee your code won't be nearly as robust, feature rich, maintainable, or error-free as what code be reused from commercial or open/shared source.

Unfortunately, I see this behavior every day. Oh sure, you'll plug in a few shared source libraries here and there: Log4J, Ant, whatever. But if it comes to working on a commercial tool such as a BPEL or a business rule engine/product...? No way! Heaven forbid you should get away from the code! What if the product needs modification?! C'mon. Do you really need to modify the Windows Server 2003 source code...? "Sure. I know better than 60,000 Microsoft employees. I do!"

It's an old, tired cliche but developers need to work smarter-not harder. With globalization, I guarantee there are 500 Russian, Chinese, Indian, or Nebraskans who can not only code you under the table but charge 1/5th of what you invoice. If no one else, you owe it to your clients or your firm. Become an innovator. Find the most effective and cost-aware method of accomplishing a task or solving a problem-not the method which most glorifies your precious custom code.

Stop reinventing the wheel out there folks. Plug in the commercial tools and shared libraries when applicable. It will propel your projects toward success, keep the industry innovative, and make our firms far more profitable and productive.

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