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I think I'm done with thought leaders

37 replies on 3 pages. Most recent reply: Mar 10, 2004 4:30 PM by Steve Holden

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Robert C. Martin

Posts: 111
Nickname: unclebob
Registered: Apr, 2003

Re: I think I'm done with thought leaders Posted: Mar 2, 2004 6:04 PM
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> I once ran across a book that looked interesting:
>
> Clouds to Code
> by Jesse Liberty
> Published by WROX
>
> I didn't get to read it though.
> Just checked amazon to see the book is out of print. :-(
> http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1861000952

This was a very good book. It's the history of a project told from beginning to end. In includes scenes in Jesse's shower (a place that I daresay many of us have had a number of interesting design revelations.)

Michael Feathers

Posts: 448
Nickname: mfeathers
Registered: Jul, 2003

Re: I think I'm done with thought leaders Posted: Mar 2, 2004 7:07 PM
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> This was a very good book. It's the history of a project
> told from beginning to end. In includes scenes in Jesse's
> shower (a place that I daresay many of us have had a
> number of interesting design revelations.)

You know, I've spent years and years working in this industry and this is the first time I've heard that everyone's been hanging out in Jesse's shower.

I must be out of the loop. :-)

Andy Steen

Posts: 1
Nickname: andrews
Registered: Mar, 2004

Re: I think I'm done with thought leaders Posted: Mar 3, 2004 9:18 AM
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Well said. I believe many of the problems with software development have little to do with what language, technology or methodology you use. In most cases the idea for developing some software has not been clearly thought out, lacks a true purpose or is being done to avoid making management/organizational/process changes. Even when a good idea has been identified, the project is usually lacking a committed leader who really believes in and understands the purpose and value of creating the software. If those two conditions are satisfied, the other stuff really doesn't matter that much. Most good software comes from individuals who are passionate about something. The thought leaders focus on process and tools because that is what organizations think will substitute for this and as they say, that is where the money is.

Dave Hoover

Posts: 93
Nickname: dsrhoov53
Registered: Mar, 2004

Re: I think I'm done with thought leaders Posted: Mar 3, 2004 11:55 AM
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> > Put another way,
> > and I'm getting really stuck on this theme, there is a
> > lack of humanity in what I've been reading. Perhaps I
> > want a developer physchology book.
>
> Have you read Software Craftsmanship by McBreen? Have you
> read Peopleware? Slack? The Deadline? by DeMarco, or The
> Mythical Man Month by Brooks? These are all about the
> human issues.

How about Jerry Weinberg's classic? "The Psychology of Computer Programming" is one of the best programming books I've ever read.

Isaac Gouy

Posts: 527
Nickname: igouy
Registered: Jul, 2003

Re: I think I'm done with thought leaders Posted: Mar 3, 2004 12:27 PM
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Perhaps I want a developer physchology book

Amplifying Your Effectiveness
Gerald M. Weinberg, James Bach, and Naomi Karten, 2000

http://www.dorsethouse.com/books/aye.html

Charles Bell

Posts: 519
Nickname: charles
Registered: Feb, 2002

Re: I think I'm done with thought leaders Posted: Mar 3, 2004 2:06 PM
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Software books are not really worth much after a few years.
Most aren't even good reference books.

Surviving in the real world, not the imaginative world that books write about, is like flying airplanes the old fashioned way, by the seat of your pants. You have to chunk the maps and electronic gizmos into the back seat and navigate from point to point using familiar or recognizable landmarks as a guide.

And you had better keep looking out of the cockpit or somebody may hit you.

Michael Feathers

Posts: 448
Nickname: mfeathers
Registered: Jul, 2003

Re: I think I'm done with thought leaders Posted: Mar 3, 2004 3:56 PM
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I held off when I read Rick's blog entry before responding because, frankly, there were too many things that I wanted to say. Here's a stab at saying a few of them.

A while ago I felt the same way that he does. A lot of code out in the field looks very different from what we see in books. Advice from thought leaders, while good sometimes seems to come from an idealized place. Why does it seem that way?

On the one hand, there is the problem that Malte mentions.. when you write you have some serious restrictions. You have to connect with the experience of a lot of people so you can't go deep into a domain. You also have to make sure you aren't boring the hell out of people when you write. I'm writing about legacy code right now, and I'm sure a book full of 3000 line functions would be ignored. But, aside from the communication difficulties, I found another reason for this "idealized place" feeling, one that was true for me. I realized that this feeling was really more of a hope. I was really hoping that there were places where the code was clean and people use better practices.

I'm a consultant now, so I visit many different teams, and yeah, there are some teams out there that do the right thing, but there are a lot who don't, and end up tripping over themselves because of it. When you see a better way you want people to strive for it, because it makes things easier. The hard part is communicating in way which lets people know that as well as seeing the better way, you see the same stuff that they do. It's tough to do.

David Ramsey

Posts: 34
Nickname: dlramsey
Registered: Apr, 2002

Re: There are many false gods Posted: Mar 4, 2004 12:10 PM
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The problem goes back to those two types of programmers that exist in the real world - those who are passionate about what they do and those who treat it as just a job.

Everything good that I've learned in this industry came from other programmers who were passionate about code, about programming, about solving the problem in useful ways.

A friend of mine once said (about 17 years ago) "Give me any project. Let me hire my own staff and I'll do it in C. Give me any project but force me to accept whomever human resources hires and I'll want to do it in Ada." What he was expressing was the same thing that I've said above.

I've learned greatly and enjoyed my exposure to methodologies, various languages, processes, etc. In the end though, it's simply the team. Any process will work with a passionate team. No process can work when you lack a team and just have a collection of individuals collecting paychecks.

The problem is how to make programmers care. Solve that problem and much of the rest falls by the wayside, at least in my own experience.

Mark Meuer

Posts: 1
Nickname: mmeuer
Registered: Mar, 2004

Re: I think I'm done with thought leaders Posted: Mar 4, 2004 2:23 PM
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> Perhaps I want
> a developer physchology book.

An interesting place to start is "The Psychology of Computer Programming" by Gerald Weinberg.

Patrick Wilson-Welsh

Posts: 5
Nickname: padraig
Registered: Oct, 2003

Re: I think I'm done with thought leaders Posted: Mar 4, 2004 3:45 PM
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Shortly before John Cage (avante garde composer) died, Laurie Anderson asked him whether "things" (human affairs) were getting better or worse. "Oh! Better," he replied, "only very, very slowly."

Thought leaders paint us pictures of a possible future. That, indeed, is their job. The present of our codebases and teams and processes are ugly because the past is even uglier. Things are improving: very, very slowly.

This is nearly invisible in the worm's eye view. Nothing is more depressing than fulltime worm's eye view! We discount the importance of the little bits of progress we make in our long slog from mire to mountaintop. But in print and in practice, the highest levels of software craft are higher than they were 15 years ago. And as a direct result, the average level of craft is also a bit higher. I think this is a big deal. We have positive change, which is way more important than the rate of that change.

Also, just as every stage of human economic development, from barter to world market, exists simultaneously in the world today, every level of software shop maturity exists simultaneously. Some shops are way, way better than others.

Keep dreaming of shops where people show respect, humility, curiosity, thirst for quality, deference, and grace. I have faith that there are lots of shops like that in the future.

Andrew C. Oliver

Posts: 999
Nickname: acoliver
Registered: Aug, 2003

Re: I think I'm done with thought leaders Posted: Mar 5, 2004 3:04 PM
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If you don't live there....move or make your place more like it.

Greg Jorgensen

Posts: 65
Nickname: gregjor
Registered: Feb, 2004

Re: I think I'm done with thought leaders Posted: Mar 5, 2004 8:21 PM
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I just flipped over to Artima to give myself a break. I've spent the last few hours working at adapting a SAP to ClipperShip interface so I can use it from some legacy ASP code.

Thought leaders help the most when you are writing the code.

They help a little when you're trying to understand someone else's code, even if it's just understanding what an idiot that programmer must be.

They don't help at all with opaque legacy systems like ClipperShip, that come with no source and APIs designed for maximum programmer inconvenience.

I can't even believe I have to generate a text file containing fixed-length fields, save that to a directory, and then wait for ClipperShip to transform that into a list of freight ratings. From a live web application! In VBScript! But that's how it goes. I'm just triaging this system long enough to replace it, but the legacy back-end pieces are not going away or changing; they are just as much a part of the business as the factory equipment.

These are the kinds of systems Yourdon and Brooks wrote about 25 years ago, only the systems never went away.

Rick Kitts

Posts: 48
Nickname: rkitts
Registered: Jan, 2003

Re: I think I'm done with thought leaders Posted: Mar 6, 2004 12:13 PM
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> I just flipped over to Artima to give myself a break. I've
> spent the last few hours working at adapting a SAP to
> ClipperShip interface so I can use it from some legacy ASP
> code.
>
> Thought leaders help the most when you are writing the
> code.
>
> They help a little when you're trying to understand
> someone else's code, even if it's just understanding what
> an idiot that programmer must be.
>
> They don't help at all with opaque legacy systems like
> ClipperShip, that come with no source and APIs designed
> for maximum programmer inconvenience.
>
> I can't even believe I have to generate a text file
> containing fixed-length fields, save that to a directory,
> and then wait for ClipperShip to transform that into a
> list of freight ratings. From a live web application! In
> VBScript! But that's how it goes. I'm just triaging this
> system long enough to replace it, but the legacy back-end
> pieces are not going away or changing; they are just as
> much a part of the business as the factory equipment.
>
> These are the kinds of systems Yourdon and Brooks wrote
> about 25 years ago, only the systems never went away.

This sounds reasonable. However, I want to build systems that last 25 years. What I don't want is someone cursing me in 25 years. At least not routinely. I think thought leaders, the ones I'm talking about anyway, have never lived with a system for a long time.

Anyway, I'm starting to come to some personal guidelines for myself that try to address what I think is missing. If I had to call it something it would be Me Oriented Programming. It's maxim is that I'm most important. The first thing I'm trying to articulate is "Why Discipline". With a period, not a question mark. It probably won't change anything, but at least I can only blame me for that.

Robert C. Martin

Posts: 111
Nickname: unclebob
Registered: Apr, 2003

Re: I think I'm done with thought leaders Posted: Mar 6, 2004 11:19 PM
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> This sounds reasonable. However, I want to build systems
> that last 25 years. What I don't want is someone cursing
> me in 25 years. At least not routinely. I think thought
> leaders, the ones I'm talking about anyway, have never
> lived with a system for a long time.

I lived with one large system for over ten years. Another one I'm working on now is close to that. I've lived with many systems for over four years. Does that count?

The problem with your post is that it doesn't name any names and seems to apply to all thought leaders generally. Perhaps you should name some names.

Rick Kitts

Posts: 48
Nickname: rkitts
Registered: Jan, 2003

Re: I think I'm done with thought leaders Posted: Mar 8, 2004 12:24 PM
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> > This sounds reasonable. However, I want to build
> systems
> > that last 25 years. What I don't want is someone
> cursing
> > me in 25 years. At least not routinely. I think thought
> > leaders, the ones I'm talking about anyway, have never
> > lived with a system for a long time.
>
> I lived with one large system for over ten years. Another
> one I'm working on now is close to that. I've lived with
> many systems for over four years. Does that count?

I dunno. Every hour of every day, 5 or so days a week? With a team of, say, 30+ developers? On a system over 1M LOC + supporting files? That's what I'm speaking of.

>
> The problem with your post

There are a lot of problems with my post. It's not specific enough. It's not actionable. It's a little whiny. I could go on. It's saving grace, for me (and it's my blog, and I don't care who thinks it's right), is that it's possibly a first step towards me building better systems. +1 for first steps.

> is that it doesn't name any
> names and seems to apply to all thought leaders generally.
> Perhaps you should name some names.

The names aren't important.

Flat View: This topic has 37 replies on 3 pages [ « | 1  2  3 | » ]
Topic: Trust No One Previous Topic   Next Topic Topic: Why Do We Always Look Ahead?


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