Simon Harriyott

Learn software craftmanship in 24 seconds

Jeff Atwood is having a bit of a rant about Teach yourself x in 24 hours books. I started leaving a comment, but it got rather long, so I'm posting it here instead.

It's horses for courses. The fantastic thing about ASP.NET is that just about anyone can knock up a quick, database-driven website with minimal time spent learning. So my fictional mate Jerry, who I imagine might collect stamps, can knock up a quick Access database with a single table containing details of his collection, drop a datasource onto a new ASP.NET form, and get a grid view of his stamps before bedtime. Sure, we would cringe looking at the code, but his philatelic mates in Japan would be delighted with it. Who's Jerry most bothered about? The stamp geeks. If I wrote the site, I'd be more concerned with the programmer geeks not catching me out (What, you've been a developer for 10 years, and you come up with this?)

I certainly wouldn't trust Jerry to help me out writing my top-secret telepathic interface, because he doesn't care about coding (and therefore sucks at it), he cares about stamps, and sharing his collection with the world, and this is who Scott's book is aimed at. I wouldn't expect Jerry to read "Code Complete" before he was "allowed" to do his website.

In the same way, I'm not interested in becoming a master carpenter, I just want to assemble my Ikea ceiling cupboard as quickly as possible, and put my teapot collection in it. I don't want to learn about veneers and dovetail joints first.

However, I do kind of agree with Jeff's point about "cheapening our craft", although anyone looking to employ a developer would hopefully spot that I'm better than Jerry, and give me the job if we both applied.
6 April 2006