Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Another One Who Hates Programmers

With all the startup buzz going around (Y Combinator, Startup School., etc), there's a lot of people giving advice on how to "do" startups. Now, I have little to no experience with startups, so I can't comment on that advice, but another thread that keeps coming up is the business types denigrating programmers. There are numerous requests by business types the "just need a hacker" to turn their brilliant idea into code, and they'll make millions - and the hacker will make a year or two's salary, because s/he "just coded" the brilliant idea.

And then I read this, by a venture capitalist, and I see it in spades - a wholesale dismissal of programmers as slow and behind the times. It's the same attitude I saw in the 90's, when managers expected the Excel macros the receptionist had written for a company directory was deemed "almost done" and the programmer was expected to turn that into robust multi-user distributed application in 1 week, because the "hard part" was done, all that was needed was a little work.

It's really easy to throw together an application with no requirements but your initial ones, without customer UI expectations, training, testing, scalability (and no, it's not just having cloud processing and hosting - you've got to make sure that it does indeed happen when you need it), and documentation. It's even more fun when you can show up a professional with many other responsibilities.

Nice try. Now support the app.

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Brian Tkatch said...

Sometimes i wonder why it isn't easier to code an initial app. Sure, i know why its hard, but if a concept can be defined by an architect, why aren't there (inefficient) code generators out there to generate code?

Or is that what high-level languages are?

Dixie Software Ninja said...

The problem is the level of detail that can be specified is much lower than the level of detail needed to generate an app.

Ruby on Rails is one framework that allows rapid prototyping, and even (according to the mavens) scalable apps, but it's amount of detail that most (all?) customers want to specify vastly exceeds the detail level of any framework.

A real-life example is a customer who wanted to do something totally against all industry best practice, because they did not want to properly train their field techs, so we had to bolster our infrastructure significantly. Any framework based on the industry would have been totally useless according to teh customer.

Brian Tkatch said...

Good point...so, why isn't there a framework that allows that level of detail?

I've wondered about this before, but not quite enough to imagine how it would be designed. That exercise, i'm sure, would illustrate the reason.

Just a thought.

Dixie Software Ninja said...


I think that it's a matter of utility - if you have to specify that level of detail, you're most of the way to the code already.

Brian Tkatch said...


BTW, i'm just starting with RSS feeds. Do you have one here?

Dixie Software Ninja said...


The feed I use for double-checking posts is: