Nobody likes to be called a dummy by a dummy.

Developer Tools

So I'm sitting here at VSLive, and we've been through a couple sessions showcasing VS2005 and SQL Server 2005. Right now, sitting a couple rows behind me, is a development team having a debate.

It seems that the majority of the team is convinced that the new productivity and RAD tools are actually more harmful than helpful as they allow mediocre developers to actually gun for enterprise class projects, where they'll be able to do more damage than ever before. They claim that their jobs are now being threatened by an expanded pool of competitors. Of course these competitors really shouldn't be there, because supposedly, they've relied on the tools.

Now, we've all heard this sort of debate before. Joel has had made statements about what constitutes a real developer. Personally, I think that these whiny developers behind are all small minded and I wouldn't hire them. Their view that tool dependant developers are inferior makes sense from one perspective, but it says nothing of a developers ability to diagnose a need, design a solution, and deliver an application.

I am really simplifying a lot of my own opinion here, so of course I understand that it's a complex concept. In a nutshell though, I was wondering where most of the CoT community fall on new developer productivity tools.

"Yay" or "Gay"
Permalink Send private email Jeff Barton 
January 30th, 2006 3:00pm
I don't use the wizards, etc. that come with the VS tools.

Why?  Because they seldom produce code that does what I need, or code that scales the way I need it to.

Maybe if most of my work involved integrating MS-Office with something else, they'd be good.
Permalink Send private email example 
January 30th, 2006 3:04pm
Anyone can write bad software with any tool.  Productivity tools just make it easier to write bad software.  The dev teams that I've been on don't really have a place for elitism, so I think that they are a bigger hindrance to their own career than anyone else may be.
Permalink Send private email Jacob 
January 30th, 2006 3:06pm
I dont mind them (the ill-conceived devs) getting some new toys to play with. It's now *faster* to prove that they dont know how to design and code enterprise class solutions.
And that means more companies can afford to ask interviewees to write code (instead of focussing on written tests, yikes).
Permalink Send private email Vineet Reynolds 
January 30th, 2006 3:07pm
I have nothing against them in theory. 

ime though unless they are *really* good they can end up costing you way more time and money than they save.

the usual thing that happens is they are fine for smaller, simpler interfaces and projects but start to suck in a major way once you have invest thetime and effort into making your project big and complicated.

so, I dont trust them.  but I do use them.  and Ive been made to regret it.

nothing Id like more than to see my competitors relying on a brand new RAD IDE to help them complete their projects ahead of time and on budget :)
Permalink Send private email FullNameRequired 
January 30th, 2006 3:08pm
This didn't start with VS - the concept that at some point you have to "break the CASE tool" goes back at least eight years that *I* can remember.

Philo
Permalink Send private email Philo 
January 30th, 2006 3:10pm
Productivity and RAD tools are great.  I can't understand the mentality of being a software developer and not being all for enhanced tools.  As a developer, all you do is make productivity tools for other professions -- so productivity tools are good for accountants and astronauts but not good for software developers...  that doesn't make sense.
Permalink Send private email Almost H. Anonymous 
January 30th, 2006 3:10pm
Somehow I think we are on the verge of greater than ever productivity gains, which will really come with Windows Vista. And don't wait for Linux to have just as good development productivity, because Linux does not need to wait 7 years to integrate a development environment with the OS, and they will as soon as its feasible. So, on KDE, with QT and lots of tools, people already have lots of productivity. GTK+ is being improved very fastly after Novell and Mono decided to support GTK# as the preferred GUI. When it comes to Web programming, it does not matter what OS you use, thus innovation can come from anywhere, including MacOSX.

Mostly, awesome productivity has arrived already, it's just going to take a little while for it to go mainstream. One of the forces that push productivity back is the "fear of the unknown" and the lots of processes that only make it slower to create the projects. Folks have abstractions for everything, from the database (ORM) to the GUI (IDEs with higher level languages, like Python and JavaScript like).

So, yeah, 10x productivity boosts are becoming a reality everyday. That will definitely mean less processes and more services.
Permalink Lost in a code jungle 
January 30th, 2006 3:20pm
BTW - I've been using VS2005 for about a month now, and it looks like it will be the first .NET IDE in which I will be using a lot of the tools.

Historically, I've hated visual designers, wizards, and other point and click development tools. BUT, keeping an open mind and reserving prejudices is going to allow me to adopt the tools I want.

And I think the point about the dolts being able to disqualify themselves _faster_ is a good one. Typically these people have trouble doing anything that doesn't exactly match an online tutorial. The high level tools make things easy to build, but they are still very complex puzzle peices that require good craftsmanship for good implementation.
Permalink Send private email Jeff Barton 
January 30th, 2006 3:20pm
"...which will really come with Windows Vista."

Why does everyone think that Vista is going to be big news for developers?  I don't get it.  It doesn't seem like Vista offers that much and there's every indication is the uptake will be extremely slow.  So, what am I missing here?
Permalink Send private email Almost H. Anonymous 
January 30th, 2006 3:22pm
Hey, I understand if they feel eroded. I understand they feel threatened. Respectively, they are and should be. Especially if they are solely the type of developer than has memorized every possible parameter type to all the base classes of yada, yada, blah, blah.dll.

I can respect someone for sheer intellect, be it ungodly powerful memory, or the devils for details. Everybody has strongpoints and I don't thingk a large team of devs would be good with all of any one type. Perhaps specific dev roles are better filled by different types....

I sure as hell don't think RAD or anything else is a BAD thing. I'm not God's Gift to the Programming World, but I don't believe there is anything someone else could do that I could not. So what if I have to consult a help file if I need instruction on some semantic of a *gasp* pointer. They will work just as well for me as someone else.

The only difference to me in a good programmer and a bad one is that bad ones just aren't programmers. Their minds just do not work in such a way as to take practical knowledge and convert it into code to solve a problem.

Beyond that, yeah, inheriting someone's virgin-birthed, bastardized,  Access-database-application-oh-my-god-it-must-have-come-from-the-depths-of-hell-reporting-tool is not the most pleasant thing in the world. But, they get the job done, and they are cheaper than we are. You have to have a better reason than feeling threatened and/or eroded to say it's a BAD thing.
Permalink Send private email I am Jack's inevitable insecurity 
January 30th, 2006 3:23pm
The thing I am excited about right now is LINQ.

It is a WOW.
Permalink Send private email Jeff Barton 
January 30th, 2006 3:24pm
Why would LINQ, a supplier of woven and nonwoven polypropylene fabrics for geotechnical and landscaping, be so WOW?
Permalink son of parnas 
January 30th, 2006 3:36pm
"Somehow I think we are on the verge of greater than ever productivity gains, which will really come with Windows Vista."

Wow, I'm impressed. I would NEVER have the balls to say that to this crowd...

Philo
Permalink Send private email Philo 
January 30th, 2006 3:37pm
In-hair-i-tense.
Permalink Send private email I am Jack's strong stretch 
January 30th, 2006 3:37pm
"Why does everyone think that Vista is going to be big news for developers?  I don't get it.  It doesn't seem like Vista offers that much and there's every indication is the uptake will be extremely slow.  So, what am I missing here?"

The only think Windows Vista won't have is compatibility with older versions of Windows (2000 and below), otherwise it will have everything, including:

* Web-like development tools. Click on a link to launch an app which will not have spaghetti code like HTML+JavaScript, but will have XAML and automatic bindings and components will you will have configured just like you do using IDEs and etc.

* Avalon+XAML will not have cruft, because they were created from scratch, and they are very toolable, so Microsoft and lots of partners will create tools using them. Expect a "Dreamweaver-like" for it, for instance. :-)

* Avalon+XAML will kick the pants off of the magical CSS+HTML+JavaScript trio.

* Your programs will average less than a megabyte, including images, and they will have the chance to be Web-enabled or stand-alone. No more big downloads. All that because of the .Net Runtime which will be included with the OS and integrated really well.

* All the years that .Net has had to mature will be even more significant once the OS includes the generic tools.

* OSS will try to copy whatever Windows Vista brings on, but it's not certain if it will be possible due to the difficulty, the patents, and whatnot.

* You will be able to deliver prototypes. :-) Imagine spending a week to create a prototype and then you decide that it's good to ship. RAD at its finest form.

* All of that will kick the pants off of Java.

Summing up, despite the obvious incompatibilities, it will be an impressive set of tools to go mainstream. Maybe that is the main difference: by integrating all of that with the OS, it will be mainstream in a matter of years.
Permalink Lost in a code jungle 
January 30th, 2006 3:38pm
> Summing up, despite the obvious incompatibilities

Slow down billg, when can we expect to excel and word rewritten? It shouldn't take long and it will be much better it seems.
Permalink son of parnas 
January 30th, 2006 4:08pm
Good software takes 10 years. Java is older than that already. Let's give this new set of tools some more years to mature, and I'm sure folks will create new generations of text editors, spreadsheets and word processores, all based on the new tools. Even Java has such tools already. The fact that the processes will be more streamlined, with less cruft, will be enough to make innovations to happen with them. Think about all the advances that Java had over other tools, but now further improved and integrated with the OS. COM? C++? Makefiles? Win32 api? No more!

By the way, I expect .Net to be at least slightly faster than Java on Windows (obviously), so any tool built with .Net will have the chance to feel snappier than if it was built with Java. By the way, maybe somebody would be interested in creating the "TextMate" (MacOSX - Ruby on Rails fame) counter-part on Windows using Avalon. (hint! hint!) :-)
Permalink Lost in a code jungle 
January 30th, 2006 4:20pm
The simpler the methods to launch and manage the UI the more complicated all the robot spaghetti will have to be to keep the balls in the air.

Now things have moved on apace since MFC and generating a million lines of macros when you want a listbox that does ummm that.  But the complexity is still somewhere and the further away it is from the developer the less likely it is that they have control and the less likely it is that they have control the less likely it is that they will innovate.

That said, if any of this stuff had visual inheritance in the IDE I might be interested, otherwise VFP still fucks it all silly, and XUL sillier still for thin clients.
Permalink Send private email Simon Lucy 
January 30th, 2006 4:28pm
BTW, piling on a running joke, I think we're all developer tools. :)

Philo
Permalink Send private email Philo 
January 30th, 2006 4:33pm
Given the RADical tools why would you need a ROR for avalon?
Permalink son of parnas 
January 30th, 2006 4:35pm
Oh, good question. I, basically, was referring to the editor itself, which could be used to edit many files, preferrably in an optimized way, with handy features for the supported formats. You know, some of us prefer editors to IDEs, or at least we need a good editor besides a good IDE. I definitely would like to have a very good editor which maybe should be easy to extend, and if it was built with Avalon maybe I would be able to extend it in many different ways using several different tools. Isn't .Net the brags about having support for many programming languages, for instance? Maybe IronPython would be a good fit for extensions of the editor.

That said, we will have a transition ahead. Some folks will jump ship as soon as possible, while others will have to maintain legacy systems. Until today, I think never someone bought a Windows because it had the right development tools. But when Vista arrives, some folks might do that.

RoR? It will probably be used during the transition period by some folks, but I foresee that RoR will be a niche which will eventually fade away.
Permalink Lost in a code jungle 
January 30th, 2006 4:56pm
>  I foresee that RoR will be a niche which will eventually fade away.

To be replaced by Vista everywhere? Billg, you are dreaming. I for one will never be locked into one platform.
Permalink son of parnas 
January 30th, 2006 5:14pm
"I expect .Net to be at least slightly faster than Java on Windows (obviously)"

Why obviously?
Permalink Rick Tang 
January 30th, 2006 5:26pm
Because it would be hard to run slower?

[g,d,r]

Philo
Permalink Send private email Philo 
January 30th, 2006 5:28pm
Because .net hooks into all that Win32 stuff directly, where as Java has to be cross-platform.  Java desktop applications are slow and look like crap on Windows (and every other OS) and .NET applications look great and run reasonably quick.
Permalink Send private email Almost H. Anonymous 
January 30th, 2006 5:29pm
Damnit Philo! 

Good one.
Permalink Send private email Almost H. Anonymous 
January 30th, 2006 5:29pm
:)

Unlike other Java fanatics I wouldn't claim Java is faster than C++ or Fortran.

But I can't see why Java is 'obviously' slower than .Net.

Wrapping .Net around Win32 is cheating, isn't it? :)
Permalink Rick Tang 
January 30th, 2006 5:45pm
[shrug] I don't know. I've used some Java clients that ran fine, but most of them seem to have actually put effort into making the UI sluggish without actually making you think it's locked up.

Philo
Permalink Send private email Philo 
January 30th, 2006 5:52pm

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