Fog Creek Software
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anyone else find this site excessively annoying?

Honestly, this site drives me insane.  No offense, Joel, but I don't think your internship at Microsoft (which you both denigrate and use as a source of your legitimacy) makes you god's gift to computer programming, and the same goes for your founding of "Fog Creek Software"(what the hell is that anyway??).  There are peopel who formally study UI, software engineering, software management etc. etc. rather than just spouting out whatever happens to come to mind that day on such and such a topic that you also have a superficial knowledge of. 

As you can see, I've been holding all of this in for awhile.  Let the counterattacks begin.

Oh, and opening up the damn source so we can see this code you like to talk so much about as well as having a succussful company would (could?) increase your legitimacy factor.  I like people speaking their views, but it's the smugness and lack of formal knowledge that drives me so nuts.

Peace.

Adam Fisk
Wednesday, March 20, 2002

Lack of "formal knowledge"?

Are you some sort of academic fascist or something?

Joel has more right than most to talk about software development - he's earning a living by running a company that develops and sells software. Not an easy task at all.

The fact that Fog Creek is shipping and supporting a great product (I can only comment on CityDesk cos thats all I've used), gives Joel's comments, opinions and anecdotes a hell of a lot more weight than that of some crusty academic living in an ivory tower, or some idealistic slashdot kiddie.

Kenshi
Wednesday, March 20, 2002

Fair cop.  But keep in mind that developers nowadays have a superficial understanding of many things, with a deep understanding of only a couple.

Your criticism makes sense; a gentleman I know who recently joined MS had similar strong feelings.

But I like the fact that it's a site where people at least mention the nuts & bolts of development.  Everything else, including this webpage at your company:
[ http://www.limewire.com/index.jsp/gnut_future ]

is a bit rosy.  There is not a hint of sarcasm.  Did anyone have a little log complaining of Gnutella's scalability, or why no one thought of hypercube network topology before when it's in Tanenbaum's big book o' networking?

BTW, can you grep through your HTML and change this line:
"Our team of developers hails from some of the world's most highly-regarded academic and professional institutions, such as MIT, Columbia, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, CIBC Oppenheimer, and Compaq."

Wrestling with Peopleware at Merill Lynch is no mean feat, but this list makes you sound like another Curl Corp to the VCs.  I just mean this as a suggestion and not an insult.

Sammy
Wednesday, March 20, 2002

I have to say, limewire.com is really good.  I have never seen a site with such good developer docs.

Sammy
Wednesday, March 20, 2002

Obviously,
this guy came in here just to get a reaction.

If he even comes back to read any responses is just a guess.

The guy doesn't even get his facts straight.

Joel wasn't an "intern" at Microsoft.
He was a program manager and worked there full-time for a few years.

On top of that, what has this guy ever done in his career to criticize?

I can guarantee that "founders of software companies" (something that isn't easy) don't come onto message boards and start idiotic rants.

My guess:
under 18,
has played around with a couple of programming languages,
knows what a for-loop is,
so he thinks he knows everything now.

Again,
all he wants is the reaction (must get his rocks off).

It's obvious by this statement:
"Let the counterattacks begin."

This is what is called a Troll.

William C
Wednesday, March 20, 2002

Uh oh -- I didn't think you guys would recognize me.  So much for not having to be accountable for my careless lash-out.

Anyway, I do value this site in that there are not many places where developers can discuss pressing questions in a comfortable environment.  I admit that it is an excellent educational tool that works extremely well. 

It's really just the Joel gospel that gets to me.  The damn book list is just like any other on Amazon.com.  There's honestly nothing special about it, and some blatant omissions and ridiculous inclusions (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance?  I don't care if many other lists include it.  That's required reading for people philosophizing on life, not programming.  Christopher Alexander is a brilliant man and a brilliant architect who I very much admire, but a required read for a programmer?  I don't think so.)

This site should focus on it's role as an educational tool and lose the ego-tripping and the ridiculous joel-worship.  No knock against Fog Creek in particular, but everyone and his ten year old brother started their own software company in the late nineties.  This does not bring legitimacy as some soft of tech guru.  It's software might be fine, but it's not a particularly interesting idea, is it? 

The point about our own background blurb is well taken and something we've been thinking about recently.  Thanks for the suggestion.  We do have the coflicting motivation that we are always on the look-out for new investors who care about those types of details, but we'll see.

My basic point is that Joel is no Bill Joy.  He's a somewhat young software developer who has created a web site to discuss pressing software issues.  Lose the smugness.  Lose the fluff. 

Oh, and some of the other guys want me to mention that these are my own personal views.  There are others on the team who read this site regularly.  Our owner in particular admires your work.

Thanks.

Adam Fisk
Wednesday, March 20, 2002

Oh, and Joel was both a summer intern and lofty "program manager" or whatever it is.  This means what?

You guys really have that much respect for people who start their own companies?  Do you have any idea how easy it is to start your own company?  You can literally do it in an afternoon.  That's not a knock on Fog Creek at all, just an appeal to pay attention.

Adam Fisk
Wednesday, March 20, 2002

Big diff between starting a company and bringing two reasonably successful products to market. Sorry, dude, you're way out of line.

pb
Wednesday, March 20, 2002

You entirely missed the point: It isn't that he started his own company; I know how easy /that/ is, my brother's done it twice now. However, that's not relevant: sure, he started a company: you are correct in that that does not qualify him. However, his company is STILL IN BUSINESS. He has run his business SUCCESSFULLY.

How many of those 2-bit afternoon software companies survive to release a product? How many of those release and successfully SELL, profitably, a good product that people use?

And about the booklist, you should realize that all programming is not merely code: it is entirely an intellectual pursuit and THAT is why 'Zen' is on there. You'll never be great (not that I claim to be, either) until you realize that software is more than a for loop here and a hash over there. And besides, if you disagree w/ Joel's choice, don't read it!

Mike Swieton
Wednesday, March 20, 2002

Go home troll.  I've reasigned your home directory it is not /dev/null

Ryan Ware
Wednesday, March 20, 2002

In reply to:

>>>>>>>>
Oh, and Joel was both a summer intern and lofty "program manager" or whatever it is. This means what?
>>>>>>>>

Obviously you missed the point.

And we're supposed to take anything you say seriously?

I did not say that he was a "lofty" program manager.
And I did not say he was a program manager to prove that he knows what he is talking about.

I mentioned this to show that you did not have your facts straight.

I would think that if you are trying to sway public opinion towards your ideas, you have to be *at least* factually correct.

Now if you want to attack Joel, please point out something that he has written about and debate how you think that it is wrong.

But, you have offered no ideas or contributions to this site.
Instead you bring negativity and worthless rants.

Please tell me.  What's the point of doing that?

William C
Wednesday, March 20, 2002

If I found the site excessively annoying, I wouldn't check back here every day.

As for "Joel Worship", well, the domain name *is* "joelonsoftware.com".  If you don't want to here what "joel" has to say "onsoftware", then I guess you're at the wrong URL.

Personally, however, I'd say that Joel's credentials are mostly irrelevant to me.  What matters is his writing, which is thought-provoking whether you agree with it or not.  I like to think, so...  'nuff said.

Phillip J. Eby
Wednesday, March 20, 2002

Argh.  Make that "hear", not "here".  I can't believe I'm getting homophonic in my old age...

Phillip J. Eby
Wednesday, March 20, 2002

Don't read is not a solution. This site is too good to ignore it. I have no problem with preaching. Joel's articles always makes you think, so there is no problem if you disagree with him.

I also was mad at Joel once for his promotions of FogBugz - something that i believe every developer should write for himself (like Joel did by the way). But I'm still here.

Actually I found this site a little annoying - I came here more often than my rational side think is necessary. I'm addicted.

Roman Eremin
Wednesday, March 20, 2002

I know that it's not a smart move to knock this site when everyone reading this is a reader of this site by definition, but oh well.

Ok, Fog Creek Software is moderately successful.  Any idea how many small to medium size software companies there are that are moderately successful?  Good, niether do I =).  There are undoubtedly many thousands, however.  I just have trouble seeing what makes Joel so special other than the fac that he talks about his views on software.  Don't get me wrong -- I think it's great that Joel enjoys doing this, and I think that it benefits readers to a large extent.  Again, it's the little guru club thing that's just yanks my chain, you know?  There's a little too much hanging on Joel's every word an little too little thinking for yourself.  This has been an impenetrable problem historically in many cases.  Hell, Martin Luther King Jr. had the same problem of people following everything he did and elevating him to some untouchabel status (in addition to plagiarizing large portions of his dissertation), so it's not unique to Joel. 

I'm not saying that the emperor has no clothes -- I'm saying he doesn't have as many as everyone seems to think he does.

In response to the last post, my point is that this site's strength is as an educational tool.  The Joel-worship errodes that strength.  Think about what Joel says (some of which I agree with, some of which I don't, but that's beside the point), then think about what you think, and keep the learning going.

Adam Fisk
Wednesday, March 20, 2002

>. However, his company is STILL IN BUSINESS. He has run his business SUCCESSFULLY.

Boy, do you people have a LOT to learn about basic business... Releasing a product does NOT a successful company make....Rememebr CUE-CAT?? They released just fine.....  Even selling a GOOD product that people LOVE  doesnt make a SUCCESSFUL company.  (rememner the countless DSL bankrupcies?)   

Success meaning making a profit.  Period.  Or you wont be around long...

To be honest, Though I LOVE Joel's writing,  I am slightly skeptical of FogCreek's viablity by selling $100 bug tracking software, (or whatever they charge).  Yea, it may be great, and yea, people may love it,  but does selling a few hundred copies of this thing cover expensive NYC office space and $100k coder salaries?  I have no idea.... 

There are thousands of fake dotcom, missed the IPO boat companies still around, slowly draining their VC money.  They don't make a dime, yet have "been in business" for YEARS at this point.  Are they successful?

Lastly, I have nothing but respect for Joel's software writing .  He espouses a basic no-nonsense pragmatic approach to development, which is rarem, crucial and INVALUABLE in this era of IT hype and vapor....Bravo !!

Bella
Wednesday, March 20, 2002

Yes, a good old mud slinging and ego fight. I love it!

Assuming from your post that you are working in a successful software company I could ask you (because you work for Limewire) how difficult it is to raise money for a company selling spyware which is used 99% of the time for illegal activities and has the RIAA all over it. But that would make me look as bad as you. So I won't.

So I better say: The web is a free world. If you don't like a site, I suggest you click another link.

Jan Derk
Wednesday, March 20, 2002

This is what it is about to me:

Few people can do, fewer folks can explain what they do,  fewer still can write about it, and even fewer can write well about it.

What I appreciate is that Joel is preaching and practicing what he preaches.  He's giving us his opinions and how he came by those opinions.  He's building a business based on these opinions and with some courage he's doing it in public.  Lucky for us he owns up to his mistakes just as he takes pride in his successes and, he lets us publish our criticisms on this forum.

tk
Wednesday, March 20, 2002

Go home troll. I've reasigned your home directory it is not /dev/null

pretty witty smitty.  actually, I really do have to get back to work, so thanks for the reminder.  I've held back from making similar posts on about 4 occcassions, so I just thought I'd get all of that off my chest.  Good luck to everyone, and my best wishes to joelonsoftware.  My criticisms were really meant to be constructive, and my apologies if they did not end up that way.  I honestly think the site would be better if some of what I'm saying would be taken in to account.  The ego-tripping takes away from the useful nuggets of truth that often emerge.

Back to releasing a new version of our software.  Peace.

Adam Fisk
Wednesday, March 20, 2002

Part of Joel's appeal is his confidence.  I like to read his stuff because he doesn't attempt to railroad you or tell you that you are a moron for not doing something his way.  He simply presents his idea/argument and lets the reader decide.  I appreciate that.

He also speaks in plain language and uses anecdotes to illustrate his points.  It's not very technical I suppose, but it sure makes the book a lot more of a pleasure to read.

I don't think he has ever said that he is a Usability guru, he just wants to get across the idea that usability is not only important, but isn't such a scary concept.  Sure, it's great to get interface designers to come work on your product, but that isn't always possible, and even when it is you can only benefit by knowing what makes a good interface yourself.

I am continually amazed by people who feel they need to post about a site being annoying, or the author not posting useful content, or whatever.  If you dislike it so much and think the name "Fog Creek" makes no sense, /why do you keep coming back/??

Sandra
Wednesday, March 20, 2002

One last thing -- I really am the only developer over here who feels this way.  The rest of the LimeWire team that reads this site is generally very supportive of Joel.  I am as well in some respects, but there are just aspects of it that I really can't stomach.  But I'll shut up.

Thanks.

Adam Fisk
Wednesday, March 20, 2002

Adam, for what it's worth (which is very little, imo) you aren't the only one. I've heard people describe this site as "not serious", also not relevent to what we here do; I haven't tried to argue with them against that point of view, and don't intend to discuss this further.

Christopher Wells
Wednesday, March 20, 2002

In reply to:
>>>>>>>>>>>>
Yea, it may be great, and yea, people may love it, but does selling a few hundred copies of this thing cover expensive NYC office space and $100k coder salaries? I have no idea....
>>>>>>>>>>>>

In one of his articles he mentioned that FogBugz (just FogBugz) ends up paying for his office space and salaries.

I'll try and find the article.

So, it seems like this company is profitable (once you start taking CityDesk into account).

William C
Wednesday, March 20, 2002

Ok, I exaggerated that statement.

I found the article (Rub-a-dub-dub):
http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000348.html

First metnion of revenue:
Of course, nothing ever works out exactly as planned. FogBUGZ was popular. Really popular. It accounts for a significant chunk of Fog Creek's revenue and sales are growing steadily. The People won't stop buying it

Later on in the article:
The code is now much more amenable to new features. We'll probably earn back the three weeks with the first new major feature we implement

William C
Wednesday, March 20, 2002

William C, I agree.  I think Adam is a genuinely angry person, but at least he owes everyone an alternative to "not Joel" or even a "spayed, overly humble Joel."

Looking carefully, it is easy to understand a bit of anger against Joel.  Limewire sells a Free Software end-product, built upon a shaky new platform.  That is nontrivial, and a work of love.  Joel is from MSFT, and profitably sells good implementations of old software.  In his articles, he's pointed out how silly it is to release sourcecode.

I dunno, I'm glad Adam can come on here and vent honestly, in the same way our favorite Spolsky can recommend a book on Motorcycle Maintenance.  Human interaction is sometimes messy but enlightenening.  And damn well entertaining. ;-)

(Jan:  I don't think it's such evil spyware.  I haven't read anything about Limewire until today -- Adam unwittingly made them some good PR -- but they clearly apologized with the whole ClickTillUWin accident.  Plus, they use the GPL, so there's a motivation not to abuse users.)

Sammy
Wednesday, March 20, 2002

Adam: "Back to releasing a new version of our software. Peace."

How much memory is it going to require this time? 512 MB at least? :-)

Frederik Slijkerman
Wednesday, March 20, 2002

It's a big Internet. You don't like it here, go somewhere else. Or don't <shrug>. I'm sure I'm not the only one who'll just skip over your posts after this little bit of trolling.

Mike Gunderloy
Wednesday, March 20, 2002

We're hoping to increase memory use as much as possible.  I definitely think you're on to something with the 512MB idea =). 

Seriously, though, LimeWire in general loves FogCreek, even if it knocks open source (i've never seen this, but I'll take your word for it) -- it just sometimes bothers me personally, although I almost never read it.  There was just a point when I got sick of hearing "Joel says this" and "Joel says that."  After awhile, I just felt like "who the hell is joel"?  I also found myself disagreeing with all of the absolute statements made here, like you should NEVER do such and such a thing, or ALWAYS do this other thing.  Those are always the answers you can rule out right at the beginning in multiple choice tests, right?  I think it's the same way with software.  Basically, these kinds of sweeping, absolute statements are almost always wrong (yes, the "NEVER re-write code from scratch" falls in here, and the "ANY company that doesn't do automatic builds is a bad company" kind of thinking also falls into this category.  I think Netscape should have been rewritten because it was crappy code.  It was a bad short term decision, but a good long term one).  OK, and the "Microsoft is so succussful because it does X" combined with the "the problem with Microsoft is Y" emotionally torments me a bit too.

I also think that I just got back from vacation and am looking for an excuse not to write any code today, which is why I seem to be having trouble fulfilling my earlier promise to shut the hell up.  Sorry...

Adam Fisk
Wednesday, March 20, 2002

whoa man o' man!

such a lively site!

Joel Goldstick
Wednesday, March 20, 2002

happens to all of us.

http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000339.html

though for the record I've gotten a lot of good tips about development from this site. and a lot of validation. I didn't go to school to get a programming job, I started doing it on the side at my company, teaching myself as I went, mostly to do the tedious work that they wanted me to do by hand. Eventually they created a development position for me. But up until I read this site I didn't really feel like a programmer. Joel showed me that the things I did were normal and made me feel better about the way I got things done.

For that he has my respect. I've also read a lot of his ideas and they've helped me a great deal.

though I know what you mean. Joel is a great programmer, he's a great writer, and he has a really great feel for the industry. He makes good points and he backs everything up with well though out comments. But he's not a god. thugh after reading thru the site I can say I would much rather work for him than God any day.

Matthew Burns
Wednesday, March 20, 2002

The one thing that makes me interested in this site is that it comes from somebody who approaches software developent from the Microsoft-side of things. For instance I find the pattern-XP-movement sometimes a bit asphyxiating in its mindshare among developers. Making fun of the famous "pencils and 3'' by 9'' cards" of the smalltalk-CRC gurus as Joel did f.i. is to me an example of 'thinking against the current'.
    Further am I intrigued by the intensity of competitive pragmatism that emenates from his writings. In contrast to the open-source world that can have a "make peace, not war" feel to it that gets a bit boring after a while.
    So, Joel, keep up de Microsoft voice!

Joost (dutch Java developer)
Wednesday, March 20, 2002

I love Joel's writing for it's approachability, and for the fact that he brings up many interesting things to think about and argue over.  I find what he has to say interesting, and I'm very, very glad he takes the time.

That said, I can see a glimmer of truth in what Adam is saying.  I think he's saying, "watch out for ego, Joel" and everyone is responding, "but we value Joel, don't attack him."

Perhaps the tone Adam is refering to is found in comments such as, "The good news is that a lot of stuff I write about UI is starting to have an impact on the Gnome and KDE people."    (http://www.softwaremarketsolution.com/)

The conclusion that KDE and Gnome developers are listening to him *personally* is a strange one, and implies a big ego.  So maybe both sides are right - we love Joel's writing, and he has a big ego.  :)

Anon
Wednesday, March 20, 2002

Blah blah blah. Lets get back to the point.

Joel and his company should just post some real source code for everyone to see. If you are going to go on and on about how great your coding skills are....prove it. Handing someone a binary does not prove it..source does.

I'm not saying he should open-source his companies software...no way should he do that. But what he needs to do is show some example code (like a full example application) when pontificating on how to create good architecture and code.

Of course, he doesn't *have* to do jack. Just a suggestion.

Moazam
Wednesday, March 20, 2002

Anon,

A kinder interpretation of ...

"The good news is that a lot of stuff I write about UI is starting to have an impact on the Gnome and KDE people."

... would be that Joel meant that the ideas which he promotes are being accepted, not because he is writing about them but because they are good ideas which are gaining acceptance.

Since he is obviously writing much of his material off the cuff (and most of us enjoy the fresh style this imparts to the results), I think that we should make a kind interpretation wherever possible.

Charles Monk
Wednesday, March 20, 2002


If there is one thing I've learned in online forums, it is that the few individuals who are totally full of themselves tend to be the first and foremost whiners when it comes to the supposedly excessive size of everybody else's ego.

And it only makes sense.

OK, enough of this. Can we talk about something of substance now ? Thank you.

Sylvain G.
Wednesday, March 20, 2002

I still make reference to Joel's comments on how detailed the operations procedures at McDonald's are.  THe whole gormet chef vs. McDonald's comparison to software development.

http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000024.html

Bella
Wednesday, March 20, 2002

Moazam,

Why?  I thought the goal of the software was to be good for the end user, not for some arbitrary notion of code aesthetics.  So the binary is actually the proof of concept.

If Joel wrote on and on about how software should Be, and his end result sucked, don't you think he'd have egg on his face?

Richard Jenkins
Wednesday, March 20, 2002

I can see Adam's point that sometimes the worship of Joel can go a little far.

Personally, I'm learning a hellova lot from Joel, and I am eternally grateful.

However, the Joel Cult can get a bit excessive.  I remember when Dave Winner posted here a little while back, and was pretty much flamed.  I didn't like that, it seemed bang out of order.

Ged Byrne
Wednesday, March 20, 2002

Thus this BBS enters the second phase of growth: The Flame Wars.

Roughly equivelant to the tumultous teen years so many of us experienced, this is an important step in the lifecycle of all sucesslful Bulletin Boards. Like many primitive mating rituals, the males of the species will puff themselves up to look larger than they are and fight over a non-existant prize. Let us step back and watch the native posters do battle with each other.

When the dust has cleared, I'm sure the Joel on Software forum will emerge as a mature discussion forum.

Anthropologist on Planet Joel
Wednesday, March 20, 2002

I totally agree with Adam. Joel must be the most annoying guy to read his comments on software engineering. I loved his book on UI but other than that he need a reality and ego check.
I really get pissed when i read his comments, the guy is cocky ignorant and plain stupid sometimes.
I stopped visiting this site but whenever he gets linked from a site I visit, it annoys me because it is boosting his ego to post his garbage.
He thinks his CMS is something but the truth it is a piece of crap unfortunately not many have the knowledge to work with real CMS and a bad easy to use crap sometimes is successful, look at Windows. I urge Joel to think about his comments. Again the most annoying thing is the confidence he has in making his stupid comments.

Akira
Wednesday, March 20, 2002


BTW... Why Adam think Joel is a young developer? I have the impression that Joel is not _too_ young.

Leonardo Herrera
Wednesday, March 20, 2002

Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Even Adam. If Adam wants to have his own discussion site, then im sure that over time, he too will have his share of praise and knocks.
I thank Joel for his opnions and I read them as food for thought, not fact.

James Ladd
Wednesday, March 20, 2002

Maybe my previous post marked evidence to back my claims, i really don't feel like proving my points because Joel is so cocky that he doens't listen.
Anyway:
Java GUI is not ugly, and his comments on justifying why he didn't use Java are absurd.
Jedit.org
limewire.org
only a few example of nice responsive GUI and complex apps written in Java.

Open Source, I won't go there but the guy has no idea about open source.

Comparing a bloated software to an encyclopedia must be my favorite stupid comment he made.
While an encyclopedia has much more information that you need it doesn't hurt to have extra info that you might need one day.
On the other hand a bloated software is slower, harder to maintain harder to use since it is hard for users to find the features they need.

If i had the time and the patience i would comment on all the annoying things he have said in the past but unfortunately i have better things to do now.

Akira
Wednesday, March 20, 2002

Crap CMS?  Jeez.  I use CityDesk to run an open source project site ( http://telecommunity.com/TransWarp/ ), and as a Zope user/developer for quite a few years, I do know the difference between "real CMS" and CityDesk.

CityDesk is better.  Hands down, no contest, for 90% of the people, 90% of the time.  The other 10% of the people already have solutions they can buy or obtain for free.  CityDesk is a welcome innovation for the 90% of people who need a simple site, use Windows, and don't run their own server.

I also run Unix boxes, such as the one used to serve the CVS and mailing lists for TransWarp, but I sure as heck would rather do articles in CityDesk than in vi.  So please don't imply that affection for CityDesk has anything to do with ignorance on the part of the user.

Usability is good, because it makes things easier for experts, too.

Phillip J. Eby
Wednesday, March 20, 2002

Try doing anything a real CMS is supposed to do with CitiDesk.
Integrate it with a portal.
Manage word documents and XML documents.
Do something a little complex and maybe you'll get the point.
CitiDesk is probably a very good blogger not a CMS, as your site gest more and more complex you would see that citidesk won't do any help.

Akira
Wednesday, March 20, 2002

I for one understand Adam's points, but I don't think he expresses his problems very well.  He(Adam) is expressing frustration at people reading Joel's site and then taking one of Joel's points out of context and then using it to "prove" something else that he doesn't like or agree with.  Also, Joel's use of absolutes(NEVER, ALWAYS) indicates a inflexibility that most programmers cringe at (Einstein believed that there are no absolutes).  I think Joel's writing is very intelligent when it comes to organizational behaviors, developer behavior/feeding/care and software management.  The problem comes in with his architectural analysis.  Probably(I'm just guessing here) his(Joel's) experience is mostly Windows based.  I'm also guessing he is a self-taught engineer with no formal theorical background in Computer Science.  So the fact that he thinks rewriting a product from scratch is NEVER the right thing to do is understandable.  Wrong, but understandable.  Getting a native Windows app to work requires alot of hacking.  But there are other platforms and environments where hacking isn't necessary because of the stability of the platform.  On UNIX, C++ references aren't very likely to just become NULL like they do on Window(especially NT 3.51).  This is why there is division on this board right now. 

Adam's point is simply that Joel isn't the be all/end all of software and that while reading this site(and anything else for that matter) remember that the writer has a view point, just like you and the guy at the cubical across the way.  It is up to you what to accept and what to reject and even how to interpret it.

To all self-educated programmers/engineers: admit to yourself that you don't know everything just because you have been programming for 20yrs and you might have made mistakes over the years because of your lack of a theortical background.

To all college-educated engineers: admit to yourself that theory isn't everything and relevant experience is import in making decisions on details.

There, is everyone happy now...

tucky
Wednesday, March 20, 2002

Adam Fisk wrote:
"Go home troll."

Yes I was trolling and being totally unfair, but reread your first post and you have to admit you were asking for it.

Let's get serious now. You do have a good point. I agree that the Joel worshipping sometimes takes extreme forms. The "Joel says" statement is often used as an argument of something being true. Doing that is IMHO a serious sign of weakness as the poster apparently could not come up with a real argument.

Almost everyone agrees that this web site is a great resource of information for any serious programmer. The problem is that some people take everything he says as the one and only software truth. For me 50% of Joel's work is extremely valuable, 25% is good and 25% I don't agree with at all. All in all a pretty good score, but not perfect.

There are a lot a good pieces to pick up. But there's some trash too. To me it feels similar to Jacob Nielsen. Does he have many good ideas about web design? Yes. Did I skip large parts in his book because I found them boring? Yes, I did. Do I like his web site? Nope, I would almost recommend it to Vincent Flanders' http://www.WebPagesThatSuck.com  If there's stuff you don't like just walk around it or post a comment with arguments why you disagree. I'd be interested in those posts.


Adam Fisk wrote:
"I also found myself disagreeing with all of the absolute statements made here, like you should NEVER do such and such a thing, or ALWAYS do this other thing. [..] NEVER re-write code from scratch"

I totally agree. Way too many people (incl. Joel sometimes (or at least he writes it that way)) think the world is black or white. There are many shades of gray and sometimes even weird shades of blue. There's ample of crappy code messed up so good that it only deserves to be rewritten. In one case I was involved in rewriting a large Fortran project in a more modern language, because we got sick of the crappy Fortran, the lousy tools and the platform it ran on. Was that a good decision? It sure was. Even after 4? years of development I tend to agree that Mozilla is a good thing, but I have to admit I know too little about the Netscape/Mozilla code to form a real opinion on that matter.

The interesting points in Joel's article was that he warns us strongly to think at least three times before we rewrite. There are just too many examples of programmers/managers deciding lightly on this matter. I do agree when Joel says (take notice: this means it's true ;) If there's only a small change required, you don't rewrite. You dig up the old tools, an old programmer and make an incredibly expensive hack, but it will always be cheaper than rewriting.


What I would hope is that Joel more often joins the discussion. That would show that he's not an ivory tower type of guy. Maybe even admit sometimes that someone has a good idea he did not think of or that he was wrong on an occasion. On the other hand I can imagine that he's reluctant to enter the hotter debates, because there are just too many people ready to rip him to pieces in another ego fight only to prove that they are smarter than he is.

At least the link on the JoelOnSoftware.com main page proves that his Royal Highness noticed your remarks while he laughs his ass off reading this thread ;)

Jan Derk
Wednesday, March 20, 2002

"Einstein believed that there are no absolutes" is both an "absolute" and an example of quoting somebody to prove something.

Anon
Wednesday, March 20, 2002

Peopleware => PeopleSoft.  Merril Lynch people wrestle with PeopleSoft.  I feel like a methodology-spewing moron.

Sammy
Wednesday, March 20, 2002

For those who wonder what Joel's education and experience is: http://joel.spolsky.com/resume.htm

Somewhat related comment: Having just seen the URL for this site in Software Development magazine makes me wonder if this site will soon go the way of Ward Cunningham's Wiki Wiki Web site (which was pretty good until it got popular and then the site suffered as a result IMHO). Popularity seems to destroy good web sites.

Anonymous Coward
Wednesday, March 20, 2002

it is no surprise that joel posted his comment related to this thread that miss the whole point. Adam is not only commenting on his coworkers quoting joel he is commenting on quoting someone who isn't a reliable source on software eng.

Akira
Wednesday, March 20, 2002

Anon:
Why don't you re-read the "quote"?(It wasn't even really a quote since Einstein would never refer to himself in the 3rd person)  It says he believed, which means that even his(Einstein's) opinion isn't absolute.  Nice try at irony...but like most people you couldn't define 'irony'.

Why don't you join the conversation instead of trying to nit-pick at other people's posts.  Or are you just unemployed with nothing better to do...

tucky
Wednesday, March 20, 2002

I do the "Joel says..." sometimes, but usually it's an answer to someone posting, "How come Joel doesn't do this?", but hasn't read the article where Joel addresses the question the question they are asking.  That's most of the time I see people saying "Joel says..." 

I don't think most people here are Joel followers.  It's just nice to find a site that's not devoted to flamewars (ironic I say this).  In addition, the discussion of software is less technical and more "holistic" (I think that's the meaning I'm trying to get across).  If I need to find detailed technical info, I just look in GOOGLE, but if I want to talk about the "why" (normative questions as they'd say in other fields), I would come here.

As for questions about Joel's credentials, I don't think most people care that much about how good of a programmer Joel is.  I think he's got to be pretty good on some level seeing as he's been more than just a code monkey at no-name companies-but that's beside the point.  What Joel says stimulates you-and he can put it in clear English (sometime other programmers with blogs aren't as good at-hell, I'm not very good at it when trying to communicate software related stuff to my less technical coworkers). 

I'm not saying Joel is the Carl Sagan or Richard Dawkins of computer science and software management.  But these scientists weren't really the brightest lights when it came to real lab work.  What they are famous for is being able to communicate the concepts of science to others (often to fields in other areas of science-I went to a talk given by Dawkins to the biology dept. at my college and over half the people were from physics, chemistry and geology).

Anyway, that's my piece.

Razib Khan
Wednesday, March 20, 2002

There is no "Adam Fisk"  That message is post by Joel him slef...!!! Just to understand how much people like his site and what do people think about it..!!!

d
Wednesday, March 20, 2002

Gee, I don't think the world is black or white always, but I cannot believe there is some people who actually thinks the Mozilla affair is something good. Boys and Girls, Mozilla is the reason number one why you never should rewrite your code from scratch.

Some people are confusing the "rewrite from scratch" practice with "migration." A 20 years old Fortran monstruosity can't be rewritten from scratch; instead, you start by trying to understand some parts of it, write an appropiate replacement, move on. That's migration, not rewrite, IMHO.

Regards, and excuse my english, please.

Leonardo Herrera
Wednesday, March 20, 2002

Mozilla is an excellent application. If it wasn't re-written it wouldn't be what it is right now.
People forge that mozilla is available on so many platforms and operating systems and it has so many features and subprojects.
IE doesn't come close to mozilla, just look at the serious security holes in IE, lack of standard compliance compared to the latest mozilla builds.

Akira
Wednesday, March 20, 2002

Joel says:  "It's true."

See!  Joel, eh, I mean Adam is right, then.  Now, let's all think for ourselves!  Yaaa! 

Reminds me of Steve Martin's Non-conformity oath:
"Okay, repeat after me!  I promise to be different!"
Audience repeats.
"I promise to be unique!"
Audience repeats.
"I promise not to repeat things other people tell me to!"
Audience confused.
"Good!"

Joey
Wednesday, March 20, 2002

Adam does exist and has some good reasons for venting a little Joel frustration.  We have some very pro Joel proponents at LimeWire as well as those that take opposing views. 

Its interesting that Joel wrote a column recently that discussed subverting parts of a development effort to your way of thinking even if nobody buys into it at first.  That sounds well intentioned but it assumes that you are more enlightened than your peers.  If everyone reads Joel then chaos may erupt.  Intelligent programmers need to agree on intelligent practices.
(http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000332.html)

There is a wealth of knowledge and experience out there if you are lucky enough to find it.  Joel makes very good points most of the time.  I’m sure he is totally wrong occasionally.  Joel’s value appears to be in reminding us or perhaps first acquainting some of us with the great works of the software industry.  Occasionally he is more entertaining than practical (“A Pattern Language” rather than “Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software”?).  All in all, this site is good at bringing intelligent thought to the software development process.

That’s my take.

Thanks
-greg

Greg Bildson
Wednesday, March 20, 2002

You are doing an incredible disservice to the group of developers behind this particular Merrill Lynch work by calling this Peoplesoft work.  In all honesty, they were mainly contractors rather than Merrill full timers.  These hired guns had a great mixture of wise experience and youthful energy.  The project in question was a classic Unix/C++/Motif/RDBMS development that was ahead of its time in many ways.  It encompassed a workflow engine, sophisticated user interfaces, lex and yacc for its own business rules language, SGML, vector graphics, a rules engine and finally direct postscript and PDF generation.  In 1994, this was the most sophisticated publishing (financial planning) system that I had seen other than that used for the electronic Oxford English Dictionary.  The workflow process was an interesting example of distributed computing.

I happen to know that Merrill Lynch also does some state of the art financial modeling in the fixed income, swaps and derivatives markets.  They have quants and mathematicians that literally wrote the book in the fixed income market. 

It sounds like the person disparaging Merrill perhaps had a little more exposure to the HR department and PeopleSoft software.  I don't think that this person is familiar with the diverse styles of development that go on at financial companies.  Interest rate models, covariance matrix based risk models, portfolio manipulation tools, sophisticated EJB based applications, ...  All of these areas can be very interesting.  I would never work on something that wasn't interesting and challenging.  NYC based developers are very likely to have this type of background.

Thanks
-greg

Greg Bildson
Wednesday, March 20, 2002

Goodness gracious, isn't the internet providing a lot of fun sometimes? :-)

I visit this site several times a day, normally, mostly to browse through the discussion forum. I also read most of Joel's articles and I found most of the articles very true. In some cases I find them a little extreme and I suspect Joel to take a devil's advocate stand in some. It never appeared to me to tell anyone: "Do it that way because Joel says it's right." and I think, it would definitedly p*** me off if someone used it as an argument in a serious discussion. I don't do things because Joel, Einstein or Alice Schwarzer think they are right (if you don't know who Alice Schwarzer is, don't worry about it). I do things because they make sense to me and I appreciate if the people around me do their own thinking, either, never mind if they agree with me or not. In that way I can understand the Adam-like frustration when "but Joel said" becomes a reappearing argument in discussions (at my last job we had something similar happen with Kent Beck, every decision was suddenly based on "but Kent said" arguments, just awful, even though I argee with Kent Beck in many points).

I do not blame this on Joel or his site, though. This would be like saying: "Well, let's not put anything true in the www anymore, people could stop thinking for themselves."

Read Joel, don't worship him :-)

Have fun,

Jutta Jordans
Thursday, March 21, 2002

Ummm well I don't visit this site to find out Joel's opinions, worship them, decry or snub them.  Since he rarely says anything on here anyway.

I come here to find out what other developers believe, spout, opinionate.  Ok, actually what I do is like seeing my own name in blue pixels.

Simon Lucy
Thursday, March 21, 2002

Greg, I am aware of what Merrill Lynch does, but color me chastened anyway.  I did not mean to insult anyone's previous work, even if my unfortunate sense of humor leads me to underestimate programming projects in general.

;-(

Sammy
Thursday, March 21, 2002

GOD DAMN IT!  I just wrote a fairly long response to this, and Joel's discussion software totally ate it without so much as a warning.  Joel, get off the lecture circuit and fix your freaking software before you expect us to take anything you say seriously.  Add a preview feature.  Add HTML support.  They're not hard; I've done both.

In my previous response I said that Joel most clearly does not practice what he preaches (see http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=29702&cid=3187052) for a specific example.  I said that his brain is big but his ego even bigger, that he has a lot of great ideas and writes eloquently about important matters but is also far more accomplished troll than Adam Fisk will ever be.  I wound up by saying that the best way to counter the Joelites is to point out *specific* flaws or inconsistencies in Joel's Grand Theory of Everything.  I was actually rather pleased with how it turned out, but never expected that Joel's software itself would provide me with such a perfect example of what I'm talking about.  Joel, most days I admire you, but today YOU SUCK.

Guess Who
Thursday, March 21, 2002

> GOD DAMN IT! I just wrote a fairly long response to this, and Joel's discussion software totally ate it without so much as a warning

When that happens, one may use the "Back" button on one's browser ... this will take one back to the edit screen in which one entered one's text (so that one don't lose one's text); or, compose in notepad and then copy-and-paste to the browser.

Christopher Wells
Thursday, March 21, 2002

No, the text wasn't there when I used the "back" button, you supercilious fool.

Sometimes I do save a copy of my text in a real text editor (Notepad is for people who don't know any better BTW) before I hit thesubmit button because this kind of brain-damage is all too common, but I shouldn't have to do it *every single time* especially on a system written by a supposed software-quality expert.  It still annoys me when this sort of thing happens.  Do you tell people who get rear-ended that it's entirely their own fault because they didn't have to be on the road, or do you allow the person who was tailgating to share at least some small part of the blame?

Guess Who
Thursday, March 21, 2002

Mr. Fisk,

After reading your post and your various responses, I wonder if you're really objecting to Joel's writing, or to your co-workers (over)quoting him so much in your workplace:

>>...software. Don't get me wrong -- I think it's great that Joel enjoys doing this, and I think that it benefits readers to a large extent. Again, it's the little guru club thing that's just yanks my chain, you know? There's a little too much hanging on Joel's every word an little too little thinking for yourself...<<

And:

>>...it just sometimes bothers me personally, although I almost never read it. There was just a point when I got sick of hearing "Joel says this" and "Joel says that." After awhile, I just felt like "who the hell is joel"?...<<

The conclusions that I draw from the content of your postings are: a) You read little, if any, of his (Joel's) writings until after you posted to his site, b) you didn't test his theories or draw from your own programming experience to see if they work or not, and c) you offer no supporting examples or information for your viewpoint. If you think Joel, or anyone else, is wrong, show us!

>> I also found myself disagreeing with all of the absolute statements made here, like you should NEVER do such and such a thing, or ALWAYS do this other thing. Those are always the answers you can rule out right at the beginning in multiple choice tests, right? <<

Then demonstrate, by example, why you disagree with those statements. And no, those aren't the answers you can rule out at the beginning of a multiple choice test. Whether you can rule them out or not depends on the kind of test (example: Psychological profiling test vs. programming test) and what sort of person wrote the test in the first place (example: Person testing the test-taker's ability to think vs. Person weeding out incompetent job applicants).

I, for one, would LOVE to see a contrary viewpoint --with information, experience, and examples to back it up. That would be constructive criticism, and beneficial to everyone who reads it for the resulting discussion.

Carey Mueller, Technical Writer, Programmer
Thursday, March 21, 2002

> No, the text wasn't there when I used the "back" button, you supercilious fool.

Sorry about that; it's always been there for me, on each occasion where I found that "Post Message" didn't post a message.

> It still annoys me when this sort of thing happens.

Being around software, I get used to it. <g>

> Do you tell people who get rear-ended that it's entirely their own fault because they didn't have to be on the road, or do you allow the person who was tailgating to share at least some small part of the blame?

In the past I have let the police sort out who is to blame, and advised people re. available safety measures.

Yours foolishly,

Christopher Wells
Thursday, March 21, 2002

Being around *my own* software instead of yours, I'm less used to such brain-damage.  :-P

Guess Who
Thursday, March 21, 2002

I've also had problems posting, mostly in netscape, and netscape typically doesn't keep the text for you when you hit the back button. I haven't tried posting from Opera.

Mark W
Thursday, March 21, 2002

I've been using IE v5 point something.

Christopher Wells
Thursday, March 21, 2002

IE 6.0 here.  I've also had it happen in Konqueror.

Guess Who
Thursday, March 21, 2002

Getting back on topic, what I originally wrote for Adam is that - whether any of us here believe he deserves it or not - Joel does have some serious cred.  If people are bashing you over the head with stuff Joel says, denying this manifestly obvious fact will only convince them that you require further education.  The "right" thing to do, as I see it, is to demonstrate *particular* things that Joel says that are wrong, either in your particular environment or in general, based on reason and experience.  That will at least get them off your back about the particular points that you refute, and if you do it often enough then the Joelists' fervor will abate.

BTW, the same rule applies to UML addicts, XP fanatics, and so on.  When confronted with a mixed bag of good and bad ideas, your first goal should be to distinguish the two so you won't be seen as attacking the obviously good parts.

Jeff Darcy
Thursday, March 21, 2002

Adam Fisk wrote
"I think it's the same way with software. Basically, these kinds of sweeping, absolute statements are almost always wrong (yes, the "NEVER re-write code from scratch" falls in here, and the "ANY company that doesn't do automatic builds is a bad company" kind of thinking also falls into this category. I think Netscape should have been rewritten because it was crappy code. It was a bad short term decision, but a good long term one). OK, and the "Microsoft is so succussful because it does X" combined with the "the problem with Microsoft is Y" emotionally torments me a bit too."

That is why Netscape is not in business today.

You don't have to agree on everything put up on this site. If whatever you reads gives you knowledge,  clears up your thought process, or gives you a different perspective of looking at things - IMHO you should leave it at that.

If you have a differenet view please name the topic, and express your views on it - that might gives us all a different way of looking at things.

Prakash S
Thursday, March 21, 2002

akira, your comments are completely idiotic. mozilla is borderline garbage and is at a minimum 3 years late and blaoted beyond belief. the fact that it is available on multiple platforms demonstrates a lack of business acumen. the encyclopedia analogy perfectly supports why it's unlikely that a "lite" word processor would ever over-take ms word. noone is claiming that CityDesk is Vignette. who the heck is putting word and xml documents on their web site? the point is not to "do something more complex", it's to do something more simply!

pb
Thursday, March 21, 2002

"Basically, these kinds of sweeping, absolute statements are almost always wrong"

Would you care to re-state that so that it's not a sweeping "almost" absolute statement.

Mark W
Thursday, March 21, 2002

It is rather amusing to read through this thread.  My favorite part is the absolute statements decrying absolute statements (not that I don't believe in absolutes!).  While some folks have been very considerate in their wording, other posts lok like they came off of a Yahoo stock message board.  The real gripe appears to be with those who seemingly quote Joel and others think the opinion is wrong. 

Ok, what's my point?  Agree of disagree with Joel, but it's his party and he'll post what he wants to.  According to the info from whois below, he paid for it, so it's his pulpit.  Those who don't like that should consider the last line:

  Organization:
      Joel Spolsky
      Joel Spolsky
      27 W. 76th St. Apt 3B
      New York, NY 10023
      US
      Phone: 1-212-787-8065
      Email: spolsky@panix.com

  Registrar Name....: Register.com
  Registrar Whois...: whois.register.com
  Registrar Homepage: http://www.register.com

  Domain Name: JOELONSOFTWARE.COM

      Created on..............: Sat, Jul 29, 2000
      Expires on..............: Mon, Jul 29, 2002
      Record last updated on..: Wed, Jun 27, 2001

  Administrative Contact:
      Joel Spolsky
      Joel Spolsky
      27 W. 76th St. Apt 3B
      New York, NY 10023
      US
      Phone: 1-212-787-8065
      Email: spolsky@panix.com

  Technical Contact, Zone Contact:
      Register.Com
      Domain Registrar
      575 8th Avenue - 11th Floor
      New York, NY 10018
      US
      Phone: 212-798-9200
      Fax..: 212-629-9305
      Email: domain-registrar@register.com

  Domain servers in listed order:

  BABAR.FOGCREEK.NET                                64.243.120.211   
  QANTAS.FOGCREEK.NET                              151.202.18.65   

Register your domain name at http://www.register.com

You may be able to buy this domain name through http://www.afternic.com/offer

Jim L.
Thursday, March 21, 2002

Disregarding the other comments for a moment, I'm glad Adam dissed Joel's book list. It is embarrassing! The tech books are totally dull and on everyone else's tech book list.
The non tech books should really not be considered worth reading by anyone over 18 years old. Godel, Escher, Bach?? I guess software people don't have time to read much...

chunks
Thursday, March 21, 2002

> My favorite part is the absolute statements decrying absolute statements (not that I don't believe in absolutes!).

"I always tell a young man never to use the word 'always'."

Christopher Wells
Thursday, March 21, 2002

It's all very well to say it's his party, he paid for it, etc. but he did create this forum for a reason.  What do you think that reason was?  So he could bask in the glow of adulation unalloyed with criticism, or so that he could be challenged and provoked to look at the world in new ways just as he likes to challenge and provoke others?  I could be wrong here, maybe I'm overestimating Joel, but I'm going to guess it's more of the latter than the former.  Joel's a big boy, I'm sure he's not afraid of the thrust and parry that tends to occur when geeks get to talking about the best way to write software, even if things occasionally turn ugly.  Do you think otherwise?

Jeff Darcy
Thursday, March 21, 2002

Guess Who,

http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=29702&cid=3187052 is hardly relevant given that Joel's essay was about rewriting ENTIRE PROGRAMS - therefore pointing out that he rewrites FUNCTIONS proves nothing. Joel is pro-refactoring (which obviously sometimes involves rewriting functions), but that is different to being pro-total system rewrite!

I am not saying I worship Joel or anything, just that the argument of the above slashdot post is meaningless (ie comparing apples to oranges).

Seeya
Matthew

Matthew John Wills
Thursday, March 21, 2002

Read the example it points to, Matthew.  In Joel's own words, he is clearly referring in the "Nancy" example to a rewrite of a single function.

Jeff Darcy
Thursday, March 21, 2002

Chunks, I've recommended GEB often to people interested in learning programming, since I had to cast about for a book that isn't dry and dull.  Programming can easily be dull.

When I was at a lecture of Hofstadters, he freely admitted that GEB made it a bit embarrassing to be around experts because GEB was meant to be a popularization, and people considered it a great work in its own right.  But that is the difference between inspiration and dry exposition.

If you have a better booklist, post it here or link to it.  I'd seriously be interesting in looking at it.

Richard J.
Thursday, March 21, 2002

Embarrasingly, just last night I said to a friend that joel is my hero. I wasn't serious, of course, but it is ironic.

I've read much of the sight and found it to be mostly good. And yes, I've said the "joel said this" phrase so I feel I am amply qualified to explain why this is said.

I think, I do not take things at face value, I have already formed opinions about many of the things I've read here and it is nice that they are backed up by a website where they are discussed more eloquently than I could.

So when I said "Joel said" it is basically a short-cut meaning "I agree with the stuff that Joel wrote and you can find out more if you go read the site." Yes, its lazy, but its not lazy thinking, its lazy explaining.

Am I making myself look like an idiot?

Speaking of contradictions, I found the following enlightening:

pb wrote:the encyclopedia analogy perfectly
supports why it's unlikely that a "lite" word processor would ever over-take ms word. noone is claiming that CityDesk is Vignette. who the heck is putting word and xml documents on their web site? the point is not to "do something more complex", it's to do something more simply!

On the one hand Word's encyclopaedic bloat is a GoodThing and on the otherhand, CityDesks simplicity compared to Vignette's encyclopaedic bloat is a GoodThing.

I hate having all that Word add-on crap that
I never use poluting my hard-drive. All I do is write technical documents and word is really bad for that.

I would love a simple XML based tool that supported XML based searches and greps and
simple XSLT WYSIWYG stuff. There doesn't seem
to be anything, though.

Brian B.
Thursday, March 21, 2002

There once was a forum quite slick
That produced a sizeable clique
Fisk posted a stink
That forced you to think
Is there more to value than shtick?

The Stranger
Thursday, March 21, 2002

anyone else find this topic excessively annoying?

Tony
Thursday, March 21, 2002

To Adam (the Shawn Fanning wannabe),

Excuse me, but I never read the article/post/diatribe/whatever in which Joel claimed to be the Messiah of Software development.  Maybe you could in all your wisdom point it out to me.  Most everything you read written by Joel on this site are his own opinions based on his experiences with software development.  Whether or not you feel he’s qualified or if his opinion matters is entirely up to you.

I think Joel is a very good writer.  I don’t agree with everything he writes, but I do enjoy reading his perspective.  What makes his ramblings unique is that, like I sai earlier, he is (in my opinion!) a very good writer.

I also think this forum serves as a hub for those interested in software development to share their opinions and experiences.  I have seen many interesting and thought provoking topics on this board.  I’ve also seen and been a part of others that weren’t as productive.

While we’re on the subject of opinions…

If the only purpose of the flagship product of the company I worked for was the proliferation of porn, warez and pirated music, I might think twice about being so boastful.

Who knows?  In the future when all the VC capital dries up and you’ve realized you can’t make money giving away your product and soliciting pirated intellectual property, maybe Joel might have a job for you?  Probably not…

Guy Incognito
Thursday, March 21, 2002

uml addicts?

Timothy Falconer
Thursday, March 21, 2002

No more typing your news stories in a big edit box in a web browser: CityDesk's slick Windows word processor supports spell checking, WYSIWYG, drag and drop, word count, and search and replace


Reinventing the wheel?  I'll just use WORD to edit my text..

Bella
Thursday, March 21, 2002

Joel graduated top of his class from Yale CS. He isn't some young punk intern kid...

...besides, if you don't like what you read here, stop coming back for more, it'll make you unhappy...

.
Thursday, March 21, 2002

If you want a look at Fog Creek source code try FogBUGZ. It's written in ASP, so the source code is open for viewing...

.
Thursday, March 21, 2002

"Reinventing the wheel? I'll just use WORD to edit my text.. "

Yes, and then exporting it to HTML, then apply your site template (you know, the logo at the top, some links in the left, a disclaimer and a couple of other links at the bottom) and upload it with some FTP application (let be friendly, WS Ftp or Cute FTP.)

Of course, some people likes to do this kind of thing. I don't.

Leonardo Herrera
Thursday, March 21, 2002

No one has said this, so I guess I will.  What many seem to have missed is that Joel Spolsky has done a very successful job at marketing himself, his company, and his products, and for very little money, I'd imagine.

Yes, there's overuse of the word "guru" on his business site and other Blockbuster box language throughout:

"Fog Creek Consulting is run by Joel Spolsky, whose website Joel on Software is read by thousands of developers worldwide every day for its insight into the management of software projects. His famous Joel Test is used by software teams everywhere to do better work. His brilliantly readable book UI Design for Programmers, available in print and on the web, has received numerous accolades."

... thousands of developers worldwide every day ...
... his famous Joel Test ...
... used by software teams everywhere ...
... his brilliantly readable book ...
... numerous accolades ...

Is this over the top?  Of course.  But he's MARKETING.  Even in his articles he's marketing.  There's just no being subtle when you're bragging about your business.  If you don't sing your own praises, no one will hear you.

That said, there's the Taoist approach:

"She doesn't boast, so she is recognized.
She doesn't claim credit, so she advances and endures"

BTW, I'd add the Tao Te Ching to any reading list.

Timothy Falconer
Friday, March 22, 2002

"Technology is EASY, Common Sense isn't"

Andrew Friar
Friday, March 22, 2002

Well said Tim!

Technology is often about acquiring mindshare and marketshare. I find that Joel has certainly created a good degree of mindshare (good and bad) among the software community.

People who quote "joel said this" are in danger of taking a handful of practical project management ideas and mutating it into a CAPITAL "M" Methodology. A certain formula for failure. The same can be said for XP, which is just a "collection of practices" that emerged from the mind of Kent Beck after getting burned from too many - shall we say - "interesting" projects.

In the end, with all of these different techniques, what are we to do? We'll, for one, we can stop being religious about it. Pick a handful of practices that you feel good about (a dash of xp, a handful from jos, a splash of brooks, and a pinch of weigers), and focus on delivering PRODUCTS! Don't turn the means into the goal, because in the end, you'll be wondering why you didn't deliver a product even though you sucessfully followed all the recommendations from somebody's website ;-)

James Wann
Friday, March 22, 2002

> anyone else find this topic excessively annoying?

nope, actually, I find it rather refreshing, even if a little time wasting, maybe :-)

Have fun,

Jutta Jordans
Friday, March 22, 2002

All I can say is that Joel's comments and observations have kept me amused/sane for the past few months, and helped me overcome the stress of office politics. Like Scott Adams, Joel soothes the daily grind of office life, and I thank them both.

Regards from the UK,

Lawrence Attrill
Friday, March 22, 2002

Jutta,
I'm not having fun, because you said nasty things to me and then you ended with "have fun" and that makes me want to vomit.

Have luvvly, wuvverly fun

Tony
Friday, March 22, 2002

He's not the Messiah he's a very naughty boy.

Love the site, articles are helpful and thought provoking, nobody has all the answers.

Mark
Friday, March 22, 2002

I like the site.

Joel is a heckuva writer, and I have to believe that FogCreek will eventually find a success formula.  He's smart and he has time on his side.

I chuckled a bit when he tried to hire a marketing person *after* the feature set for CityDesk was set in stone.  That's one of my pet issues -- everybody thinks marketing is about telling people what you built, but good marketing starts when you're trying to figure out what to build in the first place.

Nonetheless, FogCreek is apparently not beholden to a bunch of VCs, so they probably have time to make lots of excellent mistakes and learn from them.

In the meantime, I can't figure out how Joel finds so much time to write, but I still like reading his stuff, and I would enjoy seeing FogCreek become a success.

Eric W. Sink
Friday, March 22, 2002

Brian B, have you tried XML Spy? It's got a good XSLT transformation engine and a great XML editor, though it's not really aimed at paragraphs and paragraphs of text, but you can do the XML editing in your favorite text editor and then run it through the XSLT transformer.

And to the 100'th poster on this thread, you win a prize... (I believe I'm 99)

Mark W
Friday, March 22, 2002

Back to the Mozilla thing (netscape6+)  It is actually wuite a good browser.  I've been using it almost exclusively for the past year.  There have been quantum leaps in the stability this year.  I think it is safe to say that Netscape as a company was eviscerated before the decision to rewrite Gecko went in to effect.  The thing to keep in mind is that the Browser is now:

1)Open Source.  Unlike a web site, and especially website building software, something as baseline as a browser should be open source.  I much don't care what you do on your end of the the HTTP pipeline so long as it works on my end.

I have not actaully looked at the Mozilla Source code.  I have no idea how good the current or how bad the original was.  If something like the rendering engine needs to be rebuilt, and it affects the entire system the way the Mozilla project was affected, it sounds like what needed to happen first was some solid refactroing that just got things into the right places.  Then rework the algorithm.  My guess was that enough of the original people (Andreeson et alles) had left so that the people left standing had no idea how the existing code was supposed to work.  I can understand wanting to do a complete rewrite at that point.

Enough Rambling

Adam
Friday, March 22, 2002

When I tried Netscape 6, it was unbelievably slow and bloated. I run Windows 95 on a Pentium MMX 233mhz at home, and it would take minutes to boot up. The GUI felt like that Java gui everyone's always complaining about...

At version 6, it was obvious a lot of work went into it because it was feature full, but it still had a lot of "1.0ness" about it. Perhaps if they had built up rather than re-built, it wouldn't have felt that way to me.

I'm currently using Netscape 4.7. My company standardized on Netscape in 1996 when it was the only browser of choice - IE was in version 2.x, and though new computers come with IE (though they're not configured for the proxy), at work I tend to use Netscape because all the other developers use IE and I want to know whether or not their sites will break for the average user who is still 95% Netscape (which is opposite the real world, I know).

Mark W
Friday, March 22, 2002

I just thought about that.

Open Source Bloatware.

Not a lot of it right now. My candidates would be Star Office and Netscape 6.

Mark W
Friday, March 22, 2002

You might want to run Spy++ on Netscape 6.

http://james.wann.org/wlimages/netscape_spy.gif

Netscape 6 runs using a SINGLE windows class, which is the equivalent of having a giant switch statement from hell inside the program. With custom-implemented widgets to boot, they probably wrote enough code to to have built a custom windowing system inside the browser.

James Wann
Friday, March 22, 2002

Or not run netscape 6 at all. I like Opera and IE.

Say, what does this have to do with hating joel? Somebody flame someone already, this browser talk is out of place!

Mark W
Friday, March 22, 2002

Well, to go back to the top:

"Honestly, this site drives me insane. No offense, Joel, but I don't think your internship at Microsoft (which you both denigrate and use as a source of your legitimacy) makes you god's gift to computer programming, and the same goes for your founding of "Fog Creek Software"(what the hell is that anyway??). There are peopel who formally study UI, software engineering, software management etc. etc. rather than just spouting out whatever happens to come to mind that day on such and such a topic that you also have a superficial knowledge of."

* My observation is that Joel writes about Juno at least as much as he does about Microsoft.  He writes about Fog Creek most of all.  Given that your employer is an open source company, is it possible that your real beef with Joel's tenure at MS is that he's very positive about it?  Or that he *does* seem to know what he's doing, even though he was an MS employee?  Kinda makes it harder to believe in the Great Satan when it gets humanized like that, doesn't it?

* What's Fog Creek?  What's Lime Wire?  And you're the *spokesman* for these guys?  Given your inarticulate postings here, and the fuzzy reasoning therein, could you please go public soon so I can short your stock?  I mean, if you're the best Lime Wire can do when it comes to a public face...

* Yup, people study many things.  Some people do things, too.  Dissing someone because they *only* study, or because they *only* do things, seems less than conducive to either pursuit.  As may be, as has been pointed out, it's not terribly relevant here.

Hal O'Brien
Friday, March 22, 2002

Why no one seems to get it.
Look at the way joel is handling it, he post on his front page stop the joel worship, and bunch of ignorant readers defend him and he end up boosting his stupid ego without noticing that his writings are based on personal experiences and don't apply to most computer scientist.
On the other hand if you are a manager maybe you would enjoy it much better.
Science and business are too very different fields and Joel is 
a Philip Greenspun wannabe without the knowledge or the IQ to be anything close to what Philip is.

Akira
Friday, March 22, 2002

Akira,

Tell me again what happened with Philip Greenspun and ArsDigita. Remind us all about what Joel said about VC and what it will do to a company...

.
Friday, March 22, 2002

Well genius ". "Joel just recopied Philip impressions  on VCs when he started having problems at ArsDigita.
Even though Joel consider ArsDigita to be a failure, they have produced an amazing software and redhat is going to release the ACSJ 5.0 under a GNU liscense.
Again genius . you don't judge software only on it success of the business behind it.
Philip is a true computer scientist with love for technology Joel is a microsoft brain washed programmer,  once you become brain washed @ microsoft you become a manager. When I was at Standford getting my degree in CS most of my friends detested the idea of working for Microsoft. But few very bright programmers did go work for microsoft because microsoft gave them the top 4 in my graduating year an $800000 signing deal plus other compensation for joining microsoft. I used to receive coutless software from Microsoft which I threw in the garbage in front of the person giving to me.  From that point the brain washing begins. 
Unfortunatelly money have a very strong effect on our society and we judge to much things and people buy their monetary values.
Phlip got 8 million dollars by the way from the VC, I don't think that is too bad. So comparing Joel to Philip is like comparing me to Bill Joy which is one of the greatest computer scientist.
I could go on about many things but it is hard to explain a philisophy, a culture to someone who sees programming only as a way to make money.

Akira
Saturday, March 23, 2002

I should stop posting, I thought I can just make a statement and make someone think a little and reflect. So I don't have to get so frustrated when I see another site referencing Joel's stupidity. Unlike other people I don't just start talking I read most what Joel writes just to see if i misjudged the guy. I can see why so many people like him, I admit that he has a great style of writting, unlike my terrible english which is my 3rd language. You guys reading and boosting his confidence is allowing him to write all the stupidity he writes. Like i said in my first post that his UI book was really good and the success he got from that. book influenced his writting, he thinks that he has the right to talk about software eng when obviously he doens't have the knowledge or the experience, and yes microsoft doesn't count. And his current software, just go on sourceforge and see hte number of great software that manny people write everyday.
Example jedit.org, which I was a contributor, Sacha the main author was only 15 when he started writting it.  It is a gazillion times a better software then CitiDesk.

Akira
Saturday, March 23, 2002

Money talks, bullshit walks.

All I can see here is a load of bullshit.

Tony
Saturday, March 23, 2002

Akira, I can respect your points on corporate programming sucking.  Your frustration at making eloquent points in your third language is understandable.  Often I hate when people equate programming = moolah.

But I'm looking at my copy of jEdit sourcecode now.  Are you sure this is such impressive software?  Can you point out to me what I should notice?  All of this Beanshell stuff is written by someone else, and the same goes with many plugins.

Maybe I'm looking at it too critically, but it's hard not to because you're holding it up as an example of what's "a gazillion times better" than Citydesk.  Ordinarily, I think of it as fine, stable software that I've never really used.  But right now I expect it to do my dishes.

Can you hold up an example of a usable free software tool, for someone who is not a very technical user?  I don't think you can, because the only one I know in that space is Miguel de Icaza and his friends, and they're working on the infrastructure right now.  The other free software projects seem to have a contempt for the user.

In the specific case of jEdit, that is why many people prefer Jext.  Jext is simply cleaner and more usable, even if it does not have jEdit's features.

Art Vandelay
Saturday, March 23, 2002

Joel's articles are very insighful and interesting as are many of the comments from other programmers who contribute to the discussion.  It's easy to see why so many of us have a healthy respect and admiration for Joel.  (Respect && admiration != worship.)  Obviously, Mr. Fisk's comments are not well taken. 

Eric Hoffland
Saturday, March 23, 2002

Example of very good Open Source software that is not technical:
Evolution as good as outlook without the viruses
Red-carpet best installer.
Gnome excellent GUI.
Gnumeric really good Excel replacement.
movabletype.org/ is an excellent blogger software which is what CitiDesk is.
CitiDesk is not a CMS.
LimeWire good gnutella client.
OpenOffice office replacement, (it's getting there)
The GIMP photoshop replacement with a lot of nice features for web developers.


I have been using linux for 5 years, all my machines run linux, and i have seen linux change from a very technical OS to a very user friendly OS to the point I was able to install it on my father computer because he was sick of the blue screen of death.

Anyway my comments are general replies to many things Joel has written.
My father who use the computer for word processing, internet browsing and research is super happy with linux.
I configured it for him optimized it for his needs and suggested few sites to read.
The point is linux is becoming a very good desktop OS unless you are a gammer or in an industry that requires certain software that is not available yet on linux.
This site is mostly visited by Windows users that have a total different mindset and the developers that visit this site tend to not understand open source developement in general.

Akira
Saturday, March 23, 2002

Akira,

What a great son you must be - you actually inflicted linux upon your parents. Now your father wont be able to share  in any software discussions with any of his probably elderly friends because they wont know what he's talking about, and he wont know what they're talking about.

You have socially ostracized your father, poor man.

Tony
Saturday, March 23, 2002

Actually Tony, I don't have to drive to my parents house everytime windows decide to stop working and fix it.
Since I installed it my father has a 300+ days uptime with no problems and he thanks me for that. He does use word and excell documents for his work and star office does an excellent job for that. Ocassionaly he runs into minor problems and I either ssh or vnc to his computer and guide him to a solution.
Computers are used to accomplish certain tasks not to drive the user crasy. I wonder when would a person say enough is enough after windows crash a million times after you loose 1000 hours of work. Instead of spending some time to learn how to use a real OS you would rather work a little reboot than
wait forever than work reboot curse reboot reinstall windows because the hard disk became too fragmented.

Akira
Saturday, March 23, 2002

Akira,

you're being religious. Don't.

Leonardo Herrera
Saturday, March 23, 2002

I think taking the anti-M$ route is dangerous.  For one thing, too many open-source people fell into the arms of Sun.  Sun is a dangerous company, partly anti-Linux and definitely anti-BSD.  Their monopoly position on Java is overwhelming, and we've seen how they treat "partners" like Apache and Blackdown.

Furthermore, McNealy along with Ellison wanted to capitalize on Sept. 11 with their selfless offerings of technology for national ID cards.  Even RMS doesn't think that MSFT is particularly bad compared to others.

Watch out.  I work very deeply with Java, but only for the time being.  Eventually, someone will develop reasonable crossplatform GUIs for .NET and better IL extensions, and then I can really develop using Mono.

Art Vandelay
Saturday, March 23, 2002

Art,
Sun is not as bad as you are saying, cross platform developement tools for .NET are not going to solve many problems. J2EE is technically superior to .NET.
Regarding your statement SUN has a close relation with Apache but new headlines would make you think otherwise, 2 days ago sun rectified the JCP too please Apache concers you would be very happy to read the modifications because they affect open source and Java.
Sun and blackdown work together really well, sun has helped blackdown release JAI and Java3D on linux.
So what you are saying is not true anymore.
Sun is one of the only big companies I have respect for.
They refused to cooperate with Microsoft even if it would generate them more money.
Unlike IBM HP and Compaq who hate Microsoft but need to have some communication with Microsoft.
Things are changing, HP recently moved all internal developement to Linux, IBM is spending billions on Linux and Sun is going to offer linux distribution and low end servers running linux.
I predict a big shift in the industry in the next few years.
1) Microsoft would keep on running into legal problems.
2) Companies realize that Microsoft is bad for doing business with. Example Nokia, Yahoo ...
3) University students start using Linux more and more
(future developers)
They are many factors that would show that Linux have a bright future while microsoft, they are running out of luck.

Akira
Saturday, March 23, 2002

i concur
            ciao

Devil's Advocate
Saturday, March 23, 2002

"Unlike IBM HP and Compaq who hate Microsoft but need to have some communication with Microsoft."

now we have brainless legal entities expressing emotions.

Mark W
Sunday, March 24, 2002

Mark,

do you understand the negative effect of Microsoft monopoly on the computer industry?
I guess not, I wish people think before voicing their opinions, but what can i expect from a joel reader!

Akira
Sunday, March 24, 2002

Funny Akira, I was thinking the same thing of you.

Mark W
Sunday, March 24, 2002

A "Joel reader."  That is what I'm reduced to.  I never knew my existence was so sad.

Like with Slashdot, the people who post aren't representative of the viewing population.  In fact, you're the embodiment of an anti-M$ stereotype, in the same way us posters are Mammon-worshippers who try seducing smart, sweet boys with our filthy lucre.  The rest are people who simply like entertaining reads that stay with them when they go back to their lives.

Why do I enjoy reading Joel's missives?  Because frankly he can't remember a thing.  If you read his articles, you may notice there's not much he can keep up there in his head.  He has two slots for remembering bugs; the flaws of Cue:Cats exceed his ability to grok multiple things.  Therefore he is constantly rederiving things and seeing them anew.  He's not off spouting something he read in a book, but instead using that damned brain for thought.

If you have ever flipped through books by 2nd-rate engineers like Kernighan and Knuth, you've observed an odd humor where they readily admit the flaws and tradeoffs of their systems.  No (trite) religion, just a little smile and chagrin.  Honesty.

I don't need to "defend" Joel, because I (perhaps mistakenly) assume he can consider criticisms in the abstract.  But I definitely won't accept stupidity from you.  You can do better than that.

Sammy (wonders why he posts on a sweet Sunday afternoon)
Sunday, March 24, 2002

All of the most functional people (and I mean both in terms of productivity and the emotional sense) acknowledge and accept their flaws and limitations. I think this is an essential component of being a human being, and a tough lesson for a lot of people.

"What flaws? I don't have any flaws! I'm right and you're wrong, if anyone around here is flawed it's you."

I think you have to have been around the block a few times, and burned a few times to start acknowleding flaws. The acknowledgement seems to come with gray or thinning hair and extra pudge.

<joel content>
Someone said that the emperor (joel) has no clothes. (I'm paraphrasing) Personally, I think the emperor has been saying that for the past few years. Now other people read it, realize they too don't have any clothes and start telling other people that their shiny new duds are nonexistant. These people get upset because they like their clothes, so they come here and tell us the emperor has no clothes....

Most Joel Readers (tm) seem to be content to glean what they can from his articles and disregard what they don't like. If they spout "Joel says this" it's usually because reading his article clicked with them. Perhaps they'd be better off not mentioning Joel (I tend to think you shouldn't reveal your sources) and making it sound like suggestion came from you - it did after all.

If Joel is some sort of object of derision, then don't quote him, then the statement or suggestion won't come with the Joel Baggage (tm) (r) (c).
</ joel content>

Mark W
Sunday, March 24, 2002

I'm sure that I don't "know" what you mean by "formal knowledge."  But, I do think that "thou doest protest to much."  In the short time that I've "tuned in" to this site, I haven't seen Joel say much of anything that I hadn't already said to many people close to me.  But, I don't have the audience that he has.  I think you're wrong to characterize those who admire his admonitions are somehow "worshipping" him.

Kendall

Kendall Blaine Young
Sunday, March 24, 2002

You mean you don't have a Joel Shrine in your office? Where do people go to pray when their projects are going off course?

I even have the little Joel shaped candles (very pricy, but there are cheap knockoffs in the discount software stores, I've heard they're less effective though). I hope to get one of the big Joel shaped candles, but Fog Creek hasn't released the proper dimensions for them yet.

If your office is anti Joel, I posted an article on www.MarkOnJoelOnSoftware.com on how to create a desk drawer altar, and what types of incense to use to convert people. I've found that patchouli and dust from an old 5-1/4 floppy disk work best.

Mark W
Sunday, March 24, 2002

It is amazing how much can people write in just 4 days (and two of them in the weekend) about a non-technical topic (compare it to the 'ADO vs. ADO.Net' discussion, which started in the same day).

'I cant believe Ive read it all'-bert
Sunday, March 24, 2002

Oh, but this is so much more FUN than ADO. Also I understand this thread.

Mark W
Sunday, March 24, 2002

Actually I wrote so much because Joel has been annoying me for a long time, and I finally had a chance to reply.

Akira
Sunday, March 24, 2002

I was waiting till Joel's Forg Creek becomes a total failure to voice my opinion but his latest interview was too much and I felt the need to respond.
FogBUGZ , please check check the open source bugzilla and even better scarab. I wonder why anyone would pay for inferior products.
CitiDesk. No Comment.

Akira
Sunday, March 24, 2002

>> Actually I wrote so much because Joel has been annoying me for a long time, and I finally had a chance to reply. <<

If it has been annoying to you for that long, why keep coming back to the site?


>> I was waiting till Joel's Forg Creek becomes a total failure to voice my opinion <<

Again, if you can't stand Joel or Fog Creek, simply forget about him, don't read his articles and don't buy his software. Period.

  -- LuisR

Luis Alonso Ramos
Sunday, March 24, 2002

Luis,
you sure are really smart, if you read my previous post you would notice that I do not visit this site, but I get annoyed when other sites mention Joel which change my respect for that site. You wouldn't see a interview with Joel on dr Bob of software developement magazine or any respectable software magazine.

Akira
Sunday, March 24, 2002

Akira,

If other sites which you frequent and respect sometimes mention (most times positively) Joel's site, then he obviously must be doing something right.

>> I get annoyed when other sites mention Joel which change my respect for that site <<

So, when a site you like mentions Joel, you *automatically* change your opinion on it? Hmmm, you must have something personal against Joel.

  -- LuisR

Luis Alonso Ramos
Sunday, March 24, 2002

Yes him proclaminig that he is a software guru and ui guru plus him insulting the open source community which I am a member of.
And his comments on Java and other topics.
It is annoying to read someone who express so much confidence in his writtings when they are wrong and based only on personal experience.

Akira
Sunday, March 24, 2002

Akira,

You surely are *very* interested in this discussion. Not even 5 minutes ago I made my last post and you have already answered it.

He never said being a software or usability guru. It is not the person who names himself a guru, but the audience that reads and likes his work.

Joel on Software, a weblog, by definition is based on the author's personal experience. He has written many times that the articles represent his unique point of view, and may or may not agree with your point of view. It is OK for you to express your own point of view, but writing personal attacks is different.

  -- LuisR

Luis Alonso Ramos
Sunday, March 24, 2002

Luis go finish your web page, maybe you should use citidesk since HTML is too hard to learn.

Akira
Monday, March 25, 2002

You see? this is getting personal. I have not finished my home page (actually not even started, I am still on the spec) because it is something not high on my priority list. One of these days I'll hack something and upload it. But thanks for stopping by!

  -- LuisR

Luis Alonso Ramos
Monday, March 25, 2002

I am a dumb Stanford graduate. I go to a school where they give you Master's degrees in CS for watching TV. I was in love with Chelsea Clinton but now she's gone, so I read joelonsoftware instead.

I'll get right back to you after I finish masturbating.

Akira
Monday, March 25, 2002

Whoever posted the previous post with my name.
are you jealous?

Akira
Monday, March 25, 2002

Greetings from the People’s Republic of Linux!

Do not attempt to adjust your monitor.  My PRL brethren and I have taken over the internet.  Woe to he that does not repent against the evil M$ and the idolatry of Joel!  Death to Infidels!  Down with the tiny brained masses!

But Akira, you may plead.  Please have pity on me.  I did not mean to snicker at you as you spent all your free time playing Myst in the Stanford student union with all the other guys who’ve never been laid.

You fool! You do not have what it takes to understand.  But, vengeance will be mine!

Be forewarned, as I must go now.  I have not yet finished masturbating to my yearbook photo of Chelsea.

Long Live Linux!!

Akira
Monday, March 25, 2002

The People's Republic of Linux is a banana republic. I should know, since I've lived there the last two years. In my time hacking on gnome stuff, I have seen countless bad UI's that have gone unchanged and UI Things You Should Not Do On Any Platform go unnoticed by developers. Everything from the like self-expanding buttons that resize suddenly on a user whenever they enlarge a window (and turn into pencil-thin buttons taking up half the screen and breaking consistency with buttons that don't resize) to the disorganized mess that is called the Gnome menu (i.e. the Foot) seems to have its own particular cloaking device.


Here's an anecdote from my personal experiences talking with people who produce these kinds of things:

http://news.gnome.org/gnome-news/983984049/984280651/addPostingForm

In much of the linux development community, anyone who points out that some UI design is insufficient is often told to shut up and code it themselves if they think they can do a better job (this has even been said in discussions about someone like Bruce Tognazinni. Telling Tog to shut and code??!??). Or the naysayers are told that UI design is a BS field of study and it seems impossible that anyone could ever get paid for "criticizing the work of others" (I'm sort of thought of as an annoying political dissident in this banana republic). Or they are simply referred to as "whiners". And these idiot programmers keep pumping out bad UI after bad UI. Yet their software keeps getting good reviews and good comments because most of the userbase consists of other linux programmers or other large clusters of linux nerds (lots of sysadmins) who have lots of tolerance for dealing with software that has badly designed interfaces because they do it 9 hours a day. And often the zealotry of this audience further blinds them from seeing the problems with the software. "It runs on a linux kernel, so it has to be good" is the attitude (Explains a lot of the favorable reviews of StarOffice). And yet Aunt Tillie is still not using their software (wonder why?). The linux development community is really so self-destructive when it comes to creating usable desktop software that Bill Gates doesn't have to lift a finger to crush them. They are their own worst enemy and they do it for hiim.

Despite this stupidity, I still love open source software. With open source software, people who want to create usable interfaces have access to the code of the people who don't, and are permitted to fork off with it and do their own thing. Which is what I'm currently doing. Aunt Tillie will be mine in a year or two, <DIABOLICAL_LAUGH>Moo haa haa haa!</DIABOLICAL_LAUGH>

Ilan Volow
Monday, March 25, 2002

talk about devolution.  pretty soon JoelOnSoftware will have it's own "goatsex" guy :)

Razib Khan
Monday, March 25, 2002

The fact that Joel posted the criticism points to one of the major reasons I like the site -- it's brutally honest! Good work Joel.

John Dawson
Monday, March 25, 2002

There are days that Joel comes up with some really good shit, and I'm right there with him, and other days, he's out in the weeds somewhere and I'm left wondering if he's been smoking crack.

Just goes to show you that Joel is human, just like the rest of us.  He's not a god, he's not super-human, and he's not right all the time.  Just like the rest of us.

Take the good stuff he says and use it to do your job better - take the weird stuff and the bad stuff and the "lost in the weeds" stuff and ignore it.  You'll live longer that way :)

Ed Carp
Monday, March 25, 2002

I agree. Joel's strength is in his honesty. He challenges his own notions and shares his ideas. There are things he wrote that I agree with and things I disagree with, though I wouldn't go so far as to use the terms 'right' or 'wrong.' It takes a lot to put yourself out there because criticism will *always* come.

I guess this can lead to people taking his word as 'gospel,' or even mis-applying the things he says. Someone whose mostly right and has a self assured demeanor and is "mostly right" (or even mostly wrong, just look at politicians) can be very influential.

Donald Norman was honest in this way, openly discussing his own flaws and problems. It's always refreshing to run across people like this. I e-mailed once about some usability issue on Donald's site, and received a personal response.

Jakob Neilsen, on the other hand...

To paraphrase Abe Lincoln "A quarter of the people will like you for the right reason. A quarter of the people will like you for the wrong reason. A quarter of the people won't like you for the right reason. A quarter of the people won't like you for the wrong reason."

Mark W
Tuesday, March 26, 2002

Ok. Usually I sit back and refrain from becoming involved in these discussions, but today I can't resist.

Although I enjoy Joel's writings, I agree with Adam.  Lose the Joel worship. Why do so many people blindly follow someone or use that person's ideals/idea to "justify" or provide validation for their own ideas?

Think for yourself people!

What Joel writes about isn't gospel or an inspired idea that no one ever though about before. The thing that Joel has going for himself is that he can articulate difficult concepts so the average person can "understand" the topic (a breadth understanding, not depth). He has an eloquent writing style (from his creative writing class at Yale, no doubt).

Everyone wants a shortcut to knowledge. Well, there isn't one. You have to start with the fundamentals and learn the why and then the how. Only then can you understand the more complex, composite issues. Only then can you think for yourself.

There are many programmers, computer scientists and engineers out there that have as much "knowledge" as Joel, but they can't articulate it as well as Joel. Like it or not, this is exactly what Joel is doing and that is why I read his articles.

So learn the fundamentals and for God's sake, then take creative writing and speech classes so you can express yourself.


GEB
Tuesday, March 26, 2002

GEB, I think you're way off base here. I don't think anyone here 'worships' Joel or 'blindly' follows what he says.

You say you read Joel because he articulates himself well, and you say that we shouldn't feel validated in somehow knowing that someone else is going through the same things as us. These seem to contradict each other. Why shouldn't we read something that's well articulated and that provokes thought and provides insight into the problems we're going through?

I disagree with so many of your unstated assumptions about human behaviour that I find myself thinking "Do I really want to go there?"

If there are no shortcuts to knowledge, then why do we even have books? Why doesn't each generation start out fresh without gaining from the experiences and knowledge of previous generations. Saying there's no shortcut to knowledge is like saying that you have to discover fire for yourself. How to create fire is a knowledge that is gained by observing others and not through direct understanding of the fundamentals. In my experience making fire starts by turning a knob on my stove, if I was starving in a forest and it was damp I'd have to eat uncooked food.

I have a hard time believing that you're such a rugged individual as to never have been influenced by someone or accepted another pronouncement as truth. Why I bet you never even bothered to prove for yourself the fundamental laws that govern our universe, such as Newton's laws and just accepted from your high school science teacher that they're true.

In my experience people share knowledge and can learn from other people's insights and mistakes. Sometimes people write books so others don't repeat their mistakes. If in your world this looks like not thinking than I have to disagree with you.

The fact of the matter is, humans use heuristics to make decisions. If something worked for us once or twice, we'll try it a third time. After a while we do it without thinking. I bet you do this all the time. The first time you flipped a light switch you were amazed that it did something. Now you just accept that that's what light switches do.

This is a survival mechanism imparted to us by evolution. Rather than agonize over every decision every time we have to make it, we go with what works. "Run away from bears. Got it, you don't need to tell me twice."

If, from time to time someone follows Joel's Advice (tm) simply because his advice has worked in the past and not because they reasoned through it then you can chalk it up to evolution, and perhaps them having better things to think about than that particular piece of advice.

Some people are more susceptable to this kind of behaviour than others and *those* people I find annoying. "Well Jimmy says that eating dirt is good for your complexion. I'm having my dirt imported form Spain." But by and large I don't find the Joel on Software Reading Public (r) to be this way.

Mark W
Tuesday, March 26, 2002

People's Republic of Linux.

Bah.

If I wanted to run a Unix clone, I'd run OS X.

Linux is the poor-man's FreeBSD. Shame that its getting all the press, but I'm glad that Akira is involved in it. Perhaps his ignorance and arrogance will stay in the Linux camp.

As for Joel, he tells it like he sees it. He doesn't say "you must do this", he says, "this worked for me, and here's proof that it worked for others", and "this doesn't work, and here's proof."

Akira is merely stating his opinion, but not backing it up with fact. Maybe when he points to proof someone might take him seriously.

Not Akira.
Tuesday, March 26, 2002

Mark W,

I think you misunderstood me. My email was based on assumptions that I did not feel compelled to expressly state. Its the downside of attempting to have discussions over a text based medium

1.  User comments:

"Lastly, I have nothing but respect for Joel's software writing . He espouses a basic no-nonsense pragmatic approach to development, which is rarem, crucial and INVALUABLE in this era of IT hype and vapor....Bravo !!"


"In one of his articles he mentioned that FogBugz (just FogBugz) ends up paying for his office space and salaries.

I'll try and find the article."


"..though for the record I've gotten a lot of good tips about development from this site. and a lot of validation."


"But up until I read this site I didn't really feel like a programmer."

"Joel is a great programmer"

"I can say I would much rather work for him than God any day. "

2. I'm sorry you misunderstood what I ment by "Think for yourself people!" and "There is no shortcut to knowledge". Of course I don't mean that everyone must discount the research performed by the likes of Netwon, Leibniz, Gallelio, etc. Its law. You know why it is law? Because the hypotheses contained in Newtonian mechanics, Calculus, etc have not been proven wrong after centuries of experiments.

Your assertion that books are 'a shortcut to knowledge' leaves me a bit puzzled. What shortcut is that? You still have to READ, UNDERSTAND and DISCERN the fundamental facts.

But Joel speaks about opinions and not fundamental laws and many, many, MANY people seem to accept these at face value without understanding the basic fundamental principles.

3. Quoting Cialdini without even giving credit where credit is due... bad bad bad

GEB
Tuesday, March 26, 2002

3. You're right that does sound like Cialdini. I certainly wasn't ware I was quoting him, and I'm sure there are dozens of other sources that will say the same things I said.

Now, is Cialdini's work one of opinion or fact? How is it similar or dissimilar from Joel?

2. AH, so your argument is that people are somewhat blindly following someone's opinion rather learning "the facts."

<in defense of my argument>
As far as 'reading being a shortcut to knowledge,' since people *read* Joel on Software, and you claim that there are no shortcuts to knowledge in the context of people *reading* Joel on Software, I was using books as an example of people reading to gain knowledge.
</ in defense of my argument>

<digression>
I thought a scientific law was a scientific law not because it was never proven wrong, but because it is provable and that proof is repeatable, logical, and based on other facts. I could be wrong here.
</ digression>

In the matter of human relations, I tend to believe there are few absolutes and provable facts. Because of this, project manamement isn't an exact science, so discounting one person's views on it (such as Joel's) is difficult to do. Especially if you yourself don't offer any proofs to back up your statement. (i.e. Joel on Software is opinion and not worth as much as fact).

Also, if you're not 'ready' or haven't stumbled upon these so-called facts, I don't see any harm in someone presenting information in a more easily digestible manner, thus preparing you for this fundamental fact finding.

I'd be more than willing to listen if you wanted to point us to the fundamental principles people don't understand when they're reading Joel. Rather than rail against people and make enemies, why not point them in the right direction?

<sarcasm>
You also say that there are many programmers with as much knowledge as Joel. I would say "Duh." Are you trying to tell me that I think Joel is the smartest guy on Earth? I would hate for that to be your *opinion* and for you to continue to carry around this *opinion* because it simply isn't a *fact*. Perhaps you're the one who should do some research into fundamental facts.
</ sarcasm>

Joel comes across as a normal guy in the trenches trying to make a difference. I don't think anyone mistakes him for the be all and end all.

1. Except for that last one, I don't see any quotes that say "We follow Joel because we'd rather not think for ourselves."

You say tomayto, I say tomahto, perhaps we should agree to disagree? "You think Joel Readers (c) worship him, I don't." Readers of this thread can form their own conclusions.

0. This being a text based medium has nothing to do with you not feeling compelled to express the underlying assumptions of your argument.

<joke>
"J-l is like an atom. His theories are irreducible (sp?)."

"Uh, we've known for quite some time that the atom is made up of smaller particles, which are made up of energy."

"Really? I wonder what J-l has to say about that"
</joke>



I'm not seeing as much Joel Worship (tm) as I am Joel Bashing (pat. pending) disguised as Joel Worshipper (r) bashing (patent applied for), and even this so-called Joel Worshipper (r) seems to have been invented as a diversion from the real topic - Joel Bashing (pat. pending). A sort of sleight of hand, if you will.

Mark W
Tuesday, March 26, 2002

how about You ARE Where You Live?

http://yawyl.claritas.com/

Mark W
Tuesday, March 26, 2002

sorry, that last post ended up in the wrong thread.

Mark W
Tuesday, March 26, 2002

My co-worker pointed out to me that some reader are expressing there frustrations toward Joel. I for one been annoyed with Joel's writtings in the past. As I read  this thread I see that both Joel's readers and the bashers are not able to convey their points.
Joel is annoying.
Joel is cocky.
No one was saying that people worship the guy, that was a joke that he only enjoyed since he felt good about himself.
Citidesk is not a good product, and i aggree with Akira that it isn't a CMS and shouldn't be called as such.

I just wonder for the people who are defending Joel, why?
Do you think that it is ok for him to have an interview and state with confidence crap that is obviously wrong.

Marc
Tuesday, March 26, 2002

1. That's your opinion and you're welcome to it.

2. When have I been inarticulate?

3. Prove your points. Your question assumes that we agree that his crap is obviously wrong.

4. Because it's fun to defend Joel. Some people play video games, I do this.

5. What is your definition of a CMS? Please use examples.

6. I believe Adam was the first one to bring up the idea of Joel Worship. I don't think it was a joke.

(posting from Opera because I can't from IE for some reason)

Mark W
Tuesday, March 26, 2002

Hmm, I do feel sorry for once tweaking Dave Winer.

Formerly sensitive people can easily get calloused.  I guess that's why some CTOs during interviews smile when they say employees don't have to interact with customers, as if it were a great selling point.

As for me, I love observing people because it's a manager thing to do, but in the end, I will just say this:  Joel has a weblog.  He doesn't ever have to write to it, and it is other people who turn it into something more than it is.  But it is a very, very good weblog.

I hope he doesn't post to it for a year, so that the internet will be less exciting for it.

Sammy
Wednesday, March 27, 2002

Ok, so this Marc character and Akira both share a common penchant for bad English and the desire to misspell CityDesk as Citidesk.  Could they be one in the same?

Find out in next week's episode of "Script Kiddies from Slashdot make a ruckus on JOS"!

John L.
Wednesday, March 27, 2002

"I'm not saying that the emperor has no clothes -- I'm saying he doesn't have as many as everyone seems to think he does."

I would visit this site more often if Joel had no clothes on, and a webcam.

Jeff
Wednesday, March 27, 2002

Akira, you are a clown. Furthermore, it is glaringly evident that at best you're a teenager sitting in your parents basement, launching your latest vitriol-leader stream of open source bullshit. At worst you're a 40 year old burger flipper envious of actual programmers.  Get back to Slashdot kiddy.

Don't come here. It's as simple as that. For you to come here and lambast those of us who actually enjoy reading Joel's thoughts is so unbelievably ironic... 

And it absolutely staggers the mind to read those of you berating Joel for being "non-academic" (despite having an academic credential roster that would almost certain put you to shame) : That is the classic ivory-tower bullshit that has professors teaching rather than doing: A total disassociation with a little something called reality. I find it intriguing when CS majors (I am one myself, but I long since put the merit of it behind me) believe that they are >special<, and should be given special regard. I would imagine if there were ivory league baseball schools, we could enjoy Jimmy the Outfielder with Major of Baseball yabbermouthing about all of those untrained, but certainly gifted, atheletes filling the ranks of Major League Baseball : Don't they understand that they don't know the theoreticals of baseball? Have they read and understood "The Great Theory Behind the Stitch"? Blah, how utterly absurd. A last grasp of relevance from irrelevants.

Jimmy Chonga
Wednesday, March 27, 2002

Jimmy,
I am not trying to make this conversation personal.
I am sorry if i bothered anyone or offended anyone.
I am going to withdraw from this discussion, next time I would visit the site would be when Joel
is linked from another site.
I do not need to prove my credentials.
No one answered any of the points I tried to make, just attacked me.
No wonder why you guys enjoy this site.
suggested link to real software engineers:
www.martinfowler.com

Akira
Wednesday, March 27, 2002

As someone who has been developing software for going on twenty years (and, hey, I'm only 34), I've found that Joel is one of the few people who tells it like it is.  Far too many people blindly espose whatever is hip in programming at the moment, and even more people latch on to theories that they desperately want to believe, but have no meaningful experience with.  OOP is The Way.  Formal software engineering with circles and lines is The Correct Procedure.  Design by contract is The Only Option.

This all gets tiresome after a while, especially when you know that you're listening to a blind zealot without any software development experience except for a tiny open source project that gets worked on after school lets out.  Sometimes I disagree with Joel, but usually he hits the proverbial nail right on its head.  I can certainly understand why someone withou notable experience would like to disagree with him, though.

James
Thursday, March 28, 2002

Joel is my hero. Not because every word he says is right, but because he has the guts, and the writing talent, to say it.

As a previous poster wrote:
"Few people can do, fewer folks can explain what they do, fewer still can write about it, and even fewer can write well about it."

Anupriyo
Thursday, March 28, 2002

Adam Fisk = Too lazy to proofread his own writing. Too lazy even to use a spell checker.

Implications for the remainder of his work? None, I'm sure. Surely none at all!

Tony Torrant
Friday, March 29, 2002

The message that started all this off did not read as anything like constructive, and it's not surprising that it was met with the response it was.

If you're actually wanting to *communicate* with someone, then do so. If you just want to vent, then vent. But be aware that the two tactics get different results. If your issue is with people who overinflate Joel into something he isn't, take issue with *them*.

zan
Sunday, March 31, 2002

Joel says things which are common sense. Its not his role with MS that fascinates me. but his writing is thought provoking.
Whatever he mentions is supported with good reasoning. To agree or to disagree with his opinions is upto individual choice.

Regarding books on this site, this is his site. He can put anything he wants, he feels will help the programming community. 

Whatever are his opinions on UI design, aren't they make sense ? Although, most of these things are clever and can be seen with some common sense.

If you have any comments, support your arguments with proper reasons, don't just go on blaming....

Vinayak Kale
Saturday, April 06, 2002

From the Limewire website:
http://www.limewire.com/index.jsp/crew

Being Adam Fisk is a difficult task. Since becoming the LimeWire spokesperson, Adam has suffered through bouts of psychosis resulting from the thousands of emails he's received from stalkers and single women worldwide. This is a digital reproduction of what Adam sees in his head.

With that in mind, why did anyone even respond to this.

Nick
Monday, April 08, 2002

It's a fun distraction from real problems?

Mark W
Tuesday, April 09, 2002

My name is Akira, blah blah blah...

I'm so mad I could spend hours posting to a website instead of doing something useful to prove the validity of my own ideas...

Good thing that I don't have to explain the lack of profitability in my projects, because they are open source!

Akira
Wednesday, April 10, 2002

Tucky said: "Getting a native Windows app to work requires alot of hacking. But there are other platforms and environments where hacking isn't necessary because of the stability of the platform. On UNIX, C++ references aren't very likely to just become NULL like they do on Window(especially NT 3.51). This is why there is division on this board right now. "

What crap is that?  Are C++ references more likely to "become NULL" on Windows than on UNIX?  Is this guy implying that RAM chips are more likely to fail in Windows machines than UNIX ones, or what?  Or does he think there is some hidden Windows daemon that NULLs pointers at random?

A program that dereferences NULL pointers will crash on UNIX, just as it will on Windows.  And the fact that the OS catches NULL pointer dereferences is a feature, not a bug.

Villi Thorsteinsson
Thursday, April 11, 2002

Ahira made the comment quite a while ago that Joel comparing bloatware with a Encyclopedia was a silly idea

I'd have to disagree with this. bloatware is more like those 34 pound "pocket" dictionaries you may find at your local library. As an aspiring writer (more like a hobby-writer, actually) I use several different types of dictionary and really rather like inverse, reverse, acronym and synonym/antonym dictionaries and Thesauruses. However, alot of these features can be found on www.dictionary.com, although it's really annoying to use the thesaurus feature there. Nevertheless, I still use that alot and only turn to my collection of specialist dicitonaries when I cannot find what I am looking for at dictionary.com, this is because the extraneous information there ends up being useful later on more often than not and though I have various annoying difficulties getting onto the internet with my current connection, I often get on the internet for the express purpose of visiting dictionary.com.

oops, lost my point

anyway, a better anecdote with which to illustrate my point would be the way I use notepad and Word. I use notepad to "deformat" text (especially writing with hyperlinks in it) so that I can copy/paste it somewhere else or read it, I frequently copy paste stuff into notepad to "get rid of the mess" (of fonts etc.)
however, I Conversely use Word to open up text files more often than not, because in word the lines are formatted so I only need to scroll vertically to read, rather than horizontally as well.
The point is, that the only reason why I need to use notepad (apart from opening up config files etc.) is to normal fonts and colours in a piece of writing. This is extremely difficult to do in word because it is just so damn stubborn and stupid.

however, there is GOOD bloatware and BAD bloatware, in this example this is a isolated charateristic in an otherwise fairly good piece of programming. Ahira should not judge the Good bloatware by the bad, nor should he judge Joel by his use of anecdotes and comparisons, dosn't he realise that these are merely aids to assist the readers (some which may not be as technically informed as others) in understanding?

Also, it's my opinion that this use of ideas and systems is probably a sign of high intelligence.

Finally, when you read articles from sites like these, just as in reading newspapers, your aim is to learn, and the style and setting of Joel's writing is optimised for this purpose. It would be remiss to criticise something that more than adequately fulfills it's goal, is it not?

~Bob

Bob Hu
Saturday, April 13, 2002

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