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The House That Jack Built

1 reply on 1 page. Most recent reply: Aug 18, 2003 12:14 PM by Joe Grossberg

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Jack Shirazi

Posts: 20
Nickname: jacksjpt
Registered: Jul, 2003

The House That Jack Built (View in Weblogs)
Posted: Aug 7, 2003 3:35 AM
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Summary
What is the difference between knowing how to use a profiler and knowing how to tune an app? At least $10,000.
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Do you know how to use a hammer? A screwdriver? A saw? Almost certainly you do. Does that mean you can build a house? Well maybe, but unless you have previous experience at building houses, I don't think I'd want to live in the one you built. Knowing how to use the tools is not the same skill as being able to build a house.

So why is it that so many people seem to think that knowing how to use a profiling tool means you know how to tune an application? For sure, having a profiler as opposed to not having one makes tuning much easier, just like having a hammer as opposed to not having one makes building a house much easier. But the tool increases your productivity, it doesn't enable the ability. You don't suddenly have the ability to build a house because you know how to use a hammer; you don't suddenly have the ability to tune an application because you know how to use a profiler.

There's a number of different types of consulting I do for customers. Mentoring is one. Architecture reviews are another. A third is performance management, where I get involved early on in a project and ensure that performance goals are met over the project lifetime. But one type of consulting is quite different: it's called fire-fighting. It's when a project is in "panic" mode, and deperately needs fixing in a short time. Inadequate performance is only one of the possible reasons for a project to get into "panic" mode, but that's the panic mode I get called in to handle. One of my first questions is "What tools do you have?", so that I know what to bring with me. I never have to bring a profiler. Every site has one. They also know how to use it. At least one of the developers will have been on the profiler vendor's training course. But they still got into "performance panic" mode. It's not the developer's fault. It's down to the difference between knowing how to use a profiler and knowing how to performance tune. It's just another skill, nothing special about it. You can acquire performance tuning skills through training, just like you can acquire most other skills through training.

So please, try to remember that if you want to build a house it's not enough to know how to use a hammer, you need to know house building skills; if you want to performance tune an app it's not enough to know how to use a profiler, you need to know performance tuning skills. And yes, I do know I'm ranting a bit. It's because I can see yet another project that has decided all they need to know about is profilers and everything will be okay. And I know that in a couple of years, when the project is due to deploy, they will be having a fire-fight. I don't rejoice that I'll have more work in a couple of years. I get annoyed because our industry refuses to improve it's practices when improvement is possible.


Joe Grossberg

Posts: 244
Nickname: jgrossberg
Registered: Mar, 2003

Re: The House That Jack Built Posted: Aug 18, 2003 12:14 PM
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"So why is it that so many people seem to think that knowing how to use a profiling tool means you know how to tune an application?"

Haha. You think that's bad? Take a look at all the people who think knowing how to use a WYSIWYG and Photoshop means they can design web pages.

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