Overheard at DevWeek: There's too much technology in the world

WPF Team Blog
25 March 2009

My workshop day at DevWeek is over, and I'm waiting for Thursday to do my remaining three sessions on C# and F#. I've had a number of good conversations here – thanks to everybody who came up to me and said hi!

For no apparent reason, one common theme has crept up several times in discussions I've had this week, both with other speakers and with attendees of the conference. It's the topic of technology evolution, and the associated difficulties people have to keep up to date. Generally, there appear to be three types of programmers in the world (tongue in cheek, slightly):

  1. The ones who are interested in technology and chose a career in that area because they've always been interested. Of course they can be overwhelmed by the amount of new technology all around them, but type 1 programmers regard it as a challenge because it's part of their mission in life.
  2. The ones who have a personal life which doesn't (only) involve computers, but who recognize that regardless of the job they have or the opinions of their employers, it's in their own best interest to learn about new technology sooner rather than later. So they go to community events or pay their own ticket for a conference like DevWeek. They spend time reading blogs and stackoverflow.com.
  3. The ones for whom programming is a 9-5 (insert local standard working hours here) job. They look at technology as a tool. The tool is given to them by their employer, and they don't necessarily know how to use it very well. They aren't interested personally, so they pass on training opportunities half the time. If their employer gives them a new or changed tool, they hate him for it, because it makes their work more difficult. On average they live much longer than types 1 and 2.

The reality is today that there are far more type 3 programmers in the world than types 1 and 2. They tend to form large teams as well. Teaching any single type 3 programmer something really exciting and new, like maybe nullable types or even generics, is quite a hard job, but for large teams of them it's practically impossible, which puts some people in the industry in a pretty difficult position.

Take consultants. They come to a customer, analyze the situation, and find that the best solution would be to create a little Ruby on Rails application. They suggest that to the customer, who thinks it's the most hilarious thing he's recently heard. Next time, they might not even suggest the same thing. And it doesn't have to be anything esoteric like Ruby, it could be new programming language features that some of us have been using for about 5 years now in VB.NET or C#.

Finally, take component/library vendors like DevExpress. Sometimes we see the need to move on, so for instance we start using Generics – and since we asked back then, we know that there's a good percentage of our customers who likes that we made that step. But how large is the group of people out there who doesn't consider using any 3rd party controls because they don't understand half the technology that these products are based on? I honestly don't know how big this problem is today, but one thing I'm pretty sure about: it's not going to get better on its own. There's hardly anything we can do about it. Maybe Microsoft, the company that defines the programming world most of us live in, should spend some time thinking about this and coming up with ideas. I guess if I asked, they might say they already do this. Doesn't seem to work very well, though.

Free DevExpress Products - Get Your Copy Today

The following free DevExpress product offers remain available. Should you have any questions about the free offers below, please submit a ticket via the DevExpress Support Center at your convenience. We'll be happy to follow-up.
No Comments

Please login or register to post comments.