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Problem in my Development Team

I work in an IT group in a Fortune 500 company, an I have a problem.  I was hired to write a VB6 application quickly - and since then, I've become known as a "VB" guy.  Mind you, I have an MS in CS, and literally only one other person in my group of eleven developers has a technical degree - but I'm not allowed to work on any of the C++ applications because I'm only a VB guy. 

What kills me is that we all write stupid database applications - and practically *nothing* we do calls for a VC++/COM solution!!!  Just about everything we do could be done in VB in a fifth of the time it takes them to write it in VC++.

What would you do?

anon
Monday, November 24, 2003

Who's making the staffing decisions? Are they fully aware of your background? If not, spend some time talking to them.

If they are aware of your experience but they're determined to keep you in this marginalized role, that's a situation where I'd probably start looking for other opportunities (within the company first, and then at other companies).

Beth
Monday, November 24, 2003

I agree with Beth.  I would gamble that they don't even know about the other skills.  In the last couple of places I have been at, the skill that got you in the door is the _only_ skill the manager knows you have. 

Beyond that you could have been milking cows for all they know or cared.  Advertise yourself as the "can do both" guy.  Also, expect some resistence from the existing clan, if they can only do one and you can do both, you just jumped to the head of the class. (All things being equal)

MSHack
Monday, November 24, 2003

It's tough because people do get assigned roles.
This can be good because you'll likely have a job.
It's bad that you can't expand out of your role.

1. Talk with them, explain your situation, try and get
    assigned different work.
2. Train someone else to do you work so you can switch
    roles.
3. Try to move to a different group within the same
    organization or company so you can create a new
    persona.
4. Try to get a VB worked switched to C++ cause it is
    "better."
5. Get another job here you can create a new persona.

son of parnas
Monday, November 24, 2003

If you are neither technology adviser nor decision maker, don't expect that your managers will listen to you. Try to talk to your direct manager, but it may work agains you, if he will not agree. Wait some days, and think again if current work makes you unhappy, or otherwise look for a new more interesting job. Other options usually not work.

Evgeny Gesin /Javadesk/
Monday, November 24, 2003

Beth: what makes you think it is a 'marginalized role'? He was hired to write VB apps, and that's what he does.

Yes, the rest of the team seems to be writing C++ apps, but the OP even says that VB is probably the right tool for most of the projects.

If you take a job where the company says 'this job is to write VB6 applications', don't be surprised when they have you write VB6 application - even if you know other languages.

If you don't like this, talk to your boss. Either he'll say 'ok, lets get you involved with <x> too' or he'll say 'quit your bitching, we hired you to write VB'. Either way, you'll know better where you stand and what they want/expect from you.

If , after this, you still don't like it - find another job and quit.

RocketJeff
Monday, November 24, 2003

Convince the powers-that-be that you can develop the applications in VB in 1/5th the time, and begin building your VB empire.

If you can't convince the company that VB will get the job done 5x faster (assuming it really will), then it sounds like the department is hopeless anyway -- polish up the resume and move on.

John C.
Monday, November 24, 2003

I say just tell your boss you want to start helping with the C++ stuff. See what they say and make your decisisons. Easy peasy.

Gp
Monday, November 24, 2003

Suck it up and push out the best VB apps they have ever seen, VB or C++.

Don't complain and learn as much as you can.

You will get noticed and you will probably get promoted.

They will remember your complaining and whining (justified or not) until the day you die.  (so, don't !)  :)

Besides, VB can be pushed pretty hard and you can do some amazing things - quickly.

Kentasy
Monday, November 24, 2003

big companies suck to work at.

pdq
Monday, November 24, 2003

"...but I'm not allowed to work on any of the C++ applications because I'm only a VB guy. "

Are you sure this is the situation?  I'm not doubting you because typecasting certainly does exist in this business.  However, you didn't write "my boss told me I'm not allowed to work on any of the C++ applications because ..."

If you truly want to do some C++ application development work, then you really need to speak with your boss.  Perhaps he/she will allow you to perform some minor maintenance work that can be reviewed by members of your development team.

The somewhat strange thing about your situation is that traditionally many large companies almost always want their programmers to do more (i.e. be cross trained in case someone quits or becomes ill) and many of their employees (programmers) simply want to do what they are good at (i.e. VB application development only).

One Programmer's Opinion
Monday, November 24, 2003

Do your job with a beautiful smile and, in the meantime, find out, from management, everything you can about problems that need addressing in the C++ apps.

Do not, at this stage, offer solutions to those problems.

Then, step 2, resign, have a little break, and then knock on their door with a great set of VB solutions to their problems. Charge a lot.

.
Monday, November 24, 2003

"... we all write stupid database applications - and practically *nothing* we do calls for a VC++/COM solution"

See, right there's your problem.

The fact that you're doing database applications has nothing to do with how "easy" the C++ is.  I wouldn't let you anywhere *near* my database application: although I'm sure you're a nice guy, no one without minimal competence will touch this code.

For example, how familiar are you with virtual functions?  Smart pointers?  STL?  Multiple inheritance?  Patterns?

Grumpy Old-Timer
Monday, November 24, 2003

Oh wait... are you saying that you want to do C++ stuff, or you want to convince them to switch to VB?  I thought it was the former, but maybe it's the latter...

If it's the former, something you *could* do is write a utility in C++ that will make all the developer's lives easier.  Make it insanely great, and use it to show your boss you can at least code something in C++, and have real ambition (not the fake, whiny stuff you hear around the office all the time).

If it's the latter.... "never mind"...  :)

Grumpy Old-Timer
Monday, November 24, 2003

>> "For example, how familiar are you with virtual functions?  Smart pointers?"

Any kid in school knows about these.  Not sure what your point is.

>> "Patterns?"

I'm compulsive about my design.  Even to the point that I catalog my own which are particularly useful in VB.

>> "STL?  Multiple inheritance?"

Okay, this is my point exactly.  If you're doing run of the mill database application programming, there is *no need* for the STL or multiple inheritance!  I've never, ever had the need to use a data structure other the an array or a VB Collection.  Any experienced database application programmer knows this.  The bottlenecks exist during the roundtrips from the DB - especially if you're writing against web service methods like I am.  To meticulously craft complicated data structures to shave milliseconds off performance when a roundtrip often takes tens of seconds is intellectual masturbation.

anon
Monday, November 24, 2003

Well masturbation perhaps, but if you have a a gazillion hits on the database the orgasm of shaving a few milliseconds off each one could certainly favourably compare with any other physical form of the same activity.

Well, maybe not.

Simon Lucy
Monday, November 24, 2003

Whatever I program client-side won't make a gazillionth of a second of difference on any server anywhere.

anon
Monday, November 24, 2003

"typecasting certainly does exist in this business"

lol! Very good, I must remember that one!

(VB_Programmer*)pOriginalPoster;

pOriginalPoster->WriteOnlyVBCode();
pOriginalPoster->setPissedOff(true);
// pOriginalPoster->Quit();


Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Good one, unnamed!

anon
Tuesday, November 25, 2003

"If you're doing run of the mill database application programming, there is *no need* for the STL or multiple inheritance!"

Ha!  You made my day!

I rest my case (well, okay, my case was made for me, but still...)

Grumpy Old-Timer
Tuesday, November 25, 2003

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