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People who thinks they know

In his foreword to Mike Gunderloy's Coder to Developer, Joel states:

<<This is weird, because nobody thinks they know how to remove a burst appendix, or rebuild a car engine, unless they actually know how to do it, but for some reason there are all these people floating around who think they know everything there is to know about software development.>>

I think we've all worked with those.

My opinion is thus:  because a computer seems so simple to use that alot of people think they can dev with it.

Case in point: You press a button, click a few icons, and Boom! Voila! Word just created a web page from that text file, or Viso gave you a db based on those drawings, or VisualStudio made a dll from that grid. You catch my drift?

I was recently (yesterday) talking with an accountant friend of mine with extended networking experience, about how a web site was easy to build and how he could not comprehend how it could take 200+ hours to create a simple one. He was basically thinking that all you need is HTML knowledge or a wysiwyg editor to do it. Me, being a professionnal web dev for a few years now, corrected him and pointed out how you need to do all those steps before even uploading the first page to the web server (you know, objectives and needs definitions, info gathering, site structure, design specs, look & feel, images, texts, prototyping, templating, etc.). And all those takes time and alot of back and forth between all the parties involved.

So here's why I think I know why people thinks they know ;)

Feel free to correct or flame me! I DO know that I still don't know half of what it means to be a dev.

Jean-Francois Pilon
Thursday, May 27, 2004

Harking back to a previous thread, see this use of a short diminutive again - dev?

There's a reason doctors, lawyers, accountants, even engineers, do not use one syllable terms to refer to themselves. In fact such terms are not even in common use by others.

Thursday, May 27, 2004


Angry Coder
Thursday, May 27, 2004

I think part of it is that you can do some interesting, simple things easily: e.g. making your own personal web-site is pretty straightforward if know html and aren't doing anything fancy. This creates an illusion that doesn't hold up to scaling.

But I also see this problem within our profession. Any developer with an IDE can create a Windows Form. This does not mean they can design user interfaces. Those who haven't studied UI design don't even realize that there is more to it than what the widgets and events do.

Jeff Kotula
Thursday, May 27, 2004

I actually disagree with the original premise.  While nobody thinks they can remove a burst apendix (mainly because they know that the patient would die if they operated), people do play doctor all the time.  You have acne?  Well do such and such.  Warts?  Do this other thing.  Grey hair?  Bad back?  Arthritis?  Stomach pains?  Well have I got the solution for you!  (which will be different from my neighbor's cousin's great-aunt's solutions, but she's just a quack).  And lots of people tinker with their car.  Anything from changing the oil to major repairs.  Sometimes done with skill, sometimes not.  (I've seen cars that have pieces duct-taped in place).

Of course, I also disagree that developers have poor social skills, or that you have to work 80 hours a week to succeed in this field, or that off-shoring is an evil threat to our way of life; so take what I say with a grain of salt.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

"I've seen cars that have pieces duct-taped in place."

There's something wrong with that?!?

Thursday, May 27, 2004

One guy in my neighborhood duct-taped his whole pickup truck. Looked pretty cool. Folks would drive miles to check it out.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Agree with madking.  I used to think I knew how to remove an appendix but would never have tried in a million years for fear of killing someone.  I went to medical school and learned I was right about the basic technique but still would never do it in a million years for lack of practice.

To me the really amazing thing isn't that relatively inexperienced people think they can wirte code.  The amazing thing is that developers with years of experience actually believe that all this new fangled stuff is bunk and that hundreds of thousands of developer and academic experts are deluding themselves.

name withheld out of cowardice
Thursday, May 27, 2004

>academic experts<

Right, people who have tenure who never have to meet a deadline or ship anything...

Data Miner
Thursday, May 27, 2004

There are plenty of incompetent surgeons.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

If a doctor is a doc, is an accountant a c*nt?

Friday, May 28, 2004

The attitude is present everywhere.

How about writing an English entrance test for a college. Easy enough, no? Just write the fifty questions and the answer key and Bob's your uncle.

Well, not quite. Before you write a single question you have to decide on the approximate level of each set of questions, what elements go into it, what weighting you are giving to each particular skill. Then you have to take your prototype questions and test them out in the field, then analyze the results and compare them with some other yardstick, then alter the schema, then test that out (and if you're being totally thorough throw out each question answered correctly by less than 28% or more than 70% of each of your target groups) and when you make each individual version, check that you have exaclty the same number of each option.

You can of course do things the quick way; it's just a lot more likely to have problems.

The same goes for building a house - you don't need an architect for a two-bedroomed bungalow - medicine - for plenty of minor ailments you just have to decide between analgelsics, anti-histamines or anti-biotics  - law - you don't need a lawyer for the small claims court or to write a contract for the cleaner - accountancy - if you are an employee you can normally do your tax return without one - minor electrical and plumbing repairs and so on.

What distinguishes software development from many of the other skills, is that it is not clear where you go from the minor to the major. The difference between changing the oil or checking the spark plug gap and putting in the cylinder jacket or changing the piston ring is clear, as is the difference between taKing panadol for a hangover and doing brain surgery. In software development it's all under the hood.

Stephen Jones
Friday, May 28, 2004

You're an accountant! You're in a noble profession! The word "count" is part of your title!

Max Bialystock
Tuesday, June 1, 2004

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