Improving Wetware

Because technology is never the issue

In Praise of C and C++

Posted by Pete McBreen Tue, 24 Jul 2007 02:51:00 GMT

I wrote this article for InformIT back in 2002, and someone on Reddit discovered it this week.

“While Java and C# have been receiving all of the publicity of late, a lot of software is still being written in C and C++. Indeed, many traditional languages such as COBOL, FORTRAN, and Ada are still in widespread use. Although I harbor a certain fondness for COBOL, and have written more Java code over the past five years than is probably good for me, I’m finding more and more that I’m drawn back to C and C++.”

“I’m coming back to C and C++ in part because I prefer stable development environments, and because I’ve come to appreciate the power of object-oriented scripting languages, particularly Ruby. Ruby is evolving rapidly, but then I don’t try to write really long-lived code in a scripting language. I use scripting languages for code that I want to be able to write rapidly, to test ideas or to implement some valuable functionality quickly.”

Java is not in the news as much, but Ruby is growing in popularity thanks to Rails.

Overall I still stand by what I wrote back then,

“What this means for developers is that the future of C and C++ is secure for a long time. Other languages might have nicer development environments and be marginally more productive, but for the core business logic of mission-critical applications I still prefer C and C++. I’d choose other languages for the rapidly evolving parts of the application such as the user interface and the web front-end, but for the core of the application I have nothing but praise for C and C++.”

I wonder how many Rails apps out there have some key bit of functionality coded in C while Ruby handles the rest of the application?

Idiomatic Ruby

Posted by Pete McBreen Thu, 19 Jul 2007 03:07:00 GMT

Nice article on Idiomatic ruby.

More Certification ideas

Posted by Pete McBreen Thu, 05 Jul 2007 02:50:00 GMT

In Certification? Bring It On! Raganwald seems to think that his recent experiences with people asking about degrees can be alleviated by a new style certification.

Unlike other ideas, all that this type of certification covers in one subject.

The one subject? Testing and Quality Control. That’s right. All I care about is that if you are asked to make bulletproof software, you know how.

Inspired by the mistaken ideas that all that matters in a restaurant is that the chef will not poison you, this misguided attempt at vertification assumes that all that really matters is that “someone can be relied upon to write software that is safe”. Unfortunately, there is the assumption that someone who can pass an exam can deliver.

An unwarrrantied assumption in most cases.

What does 25 years of improvement look like?

Posted by Pete McBreen Tue, 03 Jul 2007 02:49:00 GMT

At a time when a developer can be called a “senior architect” with only 5 years experience, what do you call someone with 25 or 35 years experience?

Unfortunately, for the most part we can no longer call them developers, because there are few developers with 25+ years experience. Most have either drifted into other fields, been moved into management or are now independent consultants. It is rare for a developer to be able to keep improving their craft skills for 25 years because they get sidetracked into other things.

Other fields of endevour do not have this problem, so I suspect that the economic incentives in software development are skewed such that it makes little sense to get really good at being a developer.