Developer snobbery is bad for everyone

Inspired by a comment left by Jerry Pisk, I find it disturbing that people can get all worked up over the fact that Microsoft is releasing tools (or I should say, has released tools for years) that cater to less skilled developers. Jerry's comments about "programmer wannabes" reek of developer snobbery.

You would think by now that this mentality would have gone away, but clearly it hasn't. I remember computer enthusiasts in the early 90's that thought they were better than everyone else because they knew their way around a DOS prompt and didn't need Windows. In fact, you still get that from Linux geeks.

Programmers are guilty of it too. I'd say Visual Basic people in particular have been fighting this for years, as critics suggest that anything too easy to use isn't real programming. I've seen some people go as far as saying that writing managed code on .NET is inferior because you're not manipulating memory the way you would in C++.

What's that all about? There are two reasons that I find these comments annoying. The first is that 99% of programming tasks don't require the kind of performance that C++ will give you. The second is that VB and managed code allow us to write software faster, in a world where time is money. Tools like Visual Studio also help in this goal.

Yes, I understand that some people might be offended by the use of drag-and-drop visual programming. Get over it. While I personally don't use it, I can see where the two people that consist of a company's entire IT staff can use it and get what they need out of it. Ditto for the users of the new Express products.

It would be more constructive for everyone if the snobs would mentor and guide the “n00bs” instead of dogging them and the products they use. Thumping your chest and inviting people to test your testicular fortitude is not a good use of your time. This is a subject near and dear to me, not only because of the training and consulting I've done, but because of the book I'm writing. My audience is not stupid or ignorant, but they are eager to learn.

What are you doing to make the developer community better?


  • man...thanks for saying this. I know it might not be a popular position to take but, you're right.

    To make the developer community better, I think we should all be trying to help educate "the n00bs" (as you say) so that next time they will know better. It's like I say in my mantra for DevCampus, allow them to learn from *our* mistakes, not their own.

    Good post Jeff, thanks.

  • The bottom line is: using the right tool for the job!

  • Well said, Jeff.

    I think a number of those snobs may be concerned with job security and their self-given "elite" status as the barriers to becoming a developer are being torn down. Tools are less expensive and often free. Information can be found everywhere as opposed to expensive books and conferences. And, a lot of development (not all development) has less to do with the low-level "plumbing" we had to deal with in the past.

    Thanks to all the countless and most excellent developers behind-the-scenes (the non-snobs), who build tools, controls, components, and share their knowledge with the community. They make it possible for the "n00bs" to get their feet wet, feel a sense of accomplishment, and learn development at a higher level as they begin their journey.

    In the end, those people that give will always receive more in return and live a happier and richer life. The "snobs" will just fade away.

  • yeah, snobbery is bad, of course, but don't try to gloss over the fact that MS pushed VS.NET for years (and STILL ARE as recently as DevDays2004) by showing how you could simply drag a table onto a form. Those "ease-of-use" features write terrible code, create terrible habits, and are close to the exact opposite of how you should be writing the program if you are actually going to use it anywhere other than on your own desktop. Forsaking quality code and practices in order to sell users via "Gee-WYSISYG" features is a Bad Thing and has done more damage to .NET than good.

    "Job security" is FAR from the problem. If these features were good enough to use in production code, we would all be using them.

  • I agree mostly with your points, just one thing though:

    The VB.Net developers tend to write shoddy code... this is a generalization that is obviously not 100% true, but when I work with "VB only shops," I'm always explaining how things REALLY work and why this piece of code works for this one situation but will possibly fail later on...

    I dunno, I try not to be a snob about it, but I have yet to see a "tight VB coder"

    And frankly I hated the "drag onto the form" SqlConnections and DataTables and such... OMG connection string management NIGHTMARES!

  • YES Thank you so much for putting this out. I'm so sick of C++ snobs. Given the time and budget many projects would impossible in C++ or a lower level language --even for the snobs.

    "Tight coding" is great and all, but it's nice to be able to "get er done" so to speak. The "loseness" of VB allows you to code quickly and intuitively without being bogged down by specific structural mandates.

    I've never understood how being less intuitive and harder to use and more cryptic makes a programming language better. Since and C# compile with the same libraries there's no performance hit between them.

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