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Is Software Engineering Dead?


Is Software Engineering Dead?

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Alex Gay
Alex Gay
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This isn't just true in programming, it is true in all businesses. No one is allowed to be contented in their current job. The same mindset which says that companies must keep on growing profits year after year, says that workers must always want another, higher paid, job. If I wanted a different job, I'd be doing it. However I enjoy what I do, and when I stop enjoying it I will do something else.
Zippy da zipster
Zippy da zipster
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I work in Business Intelligence and move from company to company integrating systems and designing reporting to the customers needs and I'm over 40. Most of the time, I see this as a benefit. You are taken seriously, you have the experience and background to be able to design, specify and implement to a timeline.

I'd say that most of the time, the integration architecture and design is based on 'experience', not 'state of the art'. When you want to build systems that are bulletproof, you don't want to be debugging errors that noone else has come across yet. Most often, this requires some pragmatism and an ear for the clients issues, not the 'theoretically possible/over engineered' code that often comes out of the minds of over enthusiastic kids. It can also be of value to have been exposed to different technological ages and implementations to know methods around issues rather than 'redesigning the wheel'.

It is always good to have a mix of ages and specialities in a team so the 'best solution' can be found and I'm always open to better and faster ways of doing things (who isn't) but when it comes to design and architecture, I'll take experience over enthusiasm every time.
Jeff Moden
Jeff Moden
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Abrar Ahmad_ (5/13/2012)
Jeff Moden (5/12/2012)
Good article, Steve. I believe that you've hit the nail on the head. So many managers think that Hours worked = Hours wisely spent = Good lines of code and it's just not true. I've seen a lot of shops where about half of the work is spent on reworking crap code that was pushed to production to meet a schedule. More experienced managers would have seen the falicy in all of that.


Jeff, do u been referring to the code written by the Experienced guys? or by the young energetic ones? I am unable to relate your comments with the title of this post..! please Smile


Thank you!


My point is that a lot of what people call "software engineering" is actually dead because so many managers are more interested in hitting a schedule instead of hitting a product. They don't spend the time on "engineering". Instead, they spend it on expensive rework.

--Jeff Moden

RBAR is pronounced ree-bar and is a Modenism for Row-By-Agonizing-Row.
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Stop thinking about what you want to do to a row... think, instead, of what you want to do to a column.
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Being a near 15 year experience software developer who turns 40 later this year with a wife and two kids I can see many sides to this debate. Personally I've found that as long as I stay on top of technology, limit myself to a single industry (to become an industry expert), write quality code, and try to be someone people want to work with on a personal level then I don't have issues finding employment. People seek me out. We'll see if I'm singing the same tune in 10 years after my partially gray head is fully gray.
Bryant McClellan
Bryant McClellan
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Jeff Moden makes a good point. All too frequently the engineering part has been left out. If more software people thought like traditional engineering they would implement better solutions in the first place.

In my mind there is nothing more pointless than forcing a great developer into a management position. There is a reason they are great developers, and it usually does not include the ability to effectively manage people. It is the Peter Principle and it is useful only in throwing away talent.

------------
Buy the ticket, take the ride. -- Hunter S. Thompson
Sigerson
Sigerson
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Thank you, Steve. This was one of your better editorials and highlights an attitude than is too prevalent in our industry. A young programmer might certainly call me a 'grayhair' and I'm still programming for a living. I believe that I'm much better at it how than I was 20 years ago, and I'm still learning new things about how to do it cheaper, faster, but most of all, better. While I am a team player, I enjoy working alone, often in unexplored territory and depending on my own skillset and determination to pull through.

Many of us may be a loners at heart, but we've had to learn at least one new technology or language every year, so don't tell me we can't adapt. I've never met a manager who constantly worked to upgrade his or her management craft from books, or pushed their own skills development as hard as programmers and DBAs have to push theirs just to stay current.

It's funny that the management types passing these sorts of silly judgments on workers' value being a function of youth are generally older workers themselves. If it's true that older workers are really not up to par, why are so many of them in management? Are they doing good work there, or just riding on the coattails of their real producers, whether young or old?

Sigerson

"No pressure, no diamonds." - Thomas Carlyle
djackson 22568
djackson 22568
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Once managers learn that working more hours doesn't equal better

ANYTHING!

The fact is that productivity and hours worked are different measures, and studies have shown that as hours worked increases, productivity goes down.

On the entire article, all I can say is "What he said!".

Dave

Dave
sturner
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Jeff Moden (5/12/2012)
Good article, Steve. I believe that you've hit the nail on the head. So many managers think that Hours worked = Hours wisely spent = Good lines of code and it's just not true. I've seen a lot of shops where about half of the work is spent on reworking crap code that was pushed to production to meet a schedule. More experienced managers would have seen the falicy in all of that.


I agree. In fact what is worse is that management is clueless to the point of not even comprehending what you just stated. Understanding complex systems and the big picture of how everything interacts such that one is truly capable of thinking out side of the box comes from tons of experience and knowledge across a broad skill set. Deep understanding and the resulting insights just don't occur to people with limited experience... period.

Drag and drop tools and technologies make it deceptively easy to create really cool stuff that impresses the hell out of people that don't know any better. All too often these sorts of non-designs crash and burn when put into production where real transactional volume and concurrency is happening.

Ignorance is bliss.

The probability of survival is inversely proportional to the angle of arrival.
TravisDBA
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I'll take experience over youth any day of the week.:-D

"Technology is a weird thing. It brings you great gifts with one hand, and it stabs you in the back with the other. ...:-D"
Carla Wilson-484785
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There are so many different facets to this issue. Part of the issue is that there seldom is a true "technical ladder" for advancement aside from the managerial ladder. And the people who are on the managerial ladder can't understand why someone would "be content" to stay in the same position for years. If you are not trying to advance on the managerial ladder (and get paid more money), there must be something wrong with you.
Way back in 1999, the first-level supervisor position for the group I was in was "deleted" from the organizational chart during a merger with a firm in another city. After a few months, it was apparent that having a long-distance supervisor didn't make sense. I stepped up to the plate to do that role - no change in title, no pay increase! The following year, the company began an initiative to convert our mainframe, flatfile databases to a relational database. I was pumped! I had a lot of ideas and wanted to be on that development team. So I requested a transfer into that group, and stepped down from my "supervisor" role. I was floored by the disdain that people on the managerial ladder had for me after I stepped down - sort of, "See, we knew you didn't have the chops to be a manager." (Not only that, but the development team spent all their time in meetings, never agreeing on the direction to go, and no development actually took place. I ended up leaving the company just a few months later, to start fresh and learn again.)

Oh, I meant to close with: I would advocate a true technical ladder, with something like "Head guru" at the top. The people on this track could be involved in multiple projects, lending their years of experience to planning and oversight. The company could even encourage advanced degrees for people on this track.
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