Linked by snydeq on Wed 23rd Nov 2011 07:23 UTC
General Development Fatal Exception's Neil McAllister gets into the holiday spirit with a post that gives thanks to technical advances for developers, including open source tools, modern IDEs, and distributed version control. 'I'm old enough to remember when performance-critical routines meant hand-coded assembly language and sometimes even keying in machine code as hexadecimal digits. We've come a long way since those bad old days, and not surprisingly we owe a lot of our progress to technology. So for this Thanksgiving, here are just a few of the modern advances for which I, as a developer, give thanks.' What are you giving thanks to?
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Documentation and IDEs
by Doc Pain on Wed 23rd Nov 2011 11:30 UTC
Doc Pain
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Allow me to add something from my experience as a developer. The author mentions:

Online documentation and support

But what about offline documentation? In some settings, typically the weird ones that pay better, you sometimes don't have the luxury of Internet connection to search some search engine, arbitrary web site, wiki or use page to find where documentation seems to be scattered across in our times. Those settings may consist in security environments or simply non-connected ones.

In such cases, you're happy if the development you're doing relies on a system that provides good offline documentation that you can access from your hard disk. Those may be development notes coming with the product you're working with, HTML or text files, or even man pages of the system you're using. And even source coe may be considered documentation. This all assumes that the documentation in question is of good quality. You can employ standard system tools to search that documentation, and in ultra-worst case, you don't even need a web browser to do so. Or a mouse. :-)

Of course, this is an opportunity for those who provide products. As the author also mentioned, this documentation cannot beat social media, mailing lists, message boards or wikis, especially in terms of "being up-to-date".

And regarding

Modern IDEs

Sometimes you're happy to be able to automate things, have less interaction, less fiddling with details. "Old-fashioned" things like a Makefile or a script can help here. The better those "low-level tools" interface with the GUI environment you're using, the better. Still being able to use the "archaic" tools may also save your job in a worst-case situation where you can't access the tools you're typically working with. Getting the job done without them if urgently needed demonstrates the power of a good developer. In many cases, you can't predict things, and if your everyday IDE dissolves beneath your hands and there's still a job to be done, you'll be happy about the professional skills of using "archaic" tools like text mode editors, compilers, Makefiles, debuggers and versioning system interfaces. Again, I'm not arguing as "either - or", but as "together". The more options you know, the more flexible you are. And in exceptional situations, this may save your job.

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