Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 28th Sep 2012 21:51 UTC, submitted by MOS6510
General Development "When I started writing programs in the late 80s it was pretty primitive and required a lot of study and skill. I was a young kid doing this stuff, the adults at that time had it even worse and some of them did start in the punch card era. This was back when programmers really had to earn their keep, and us newer generations are losing appreciation for that. A generation or two ago they may have been been better coders than us. More importantly they were better craftsmen, and we need to think about that." I'm no programmer, but I do understand that the current crop of programmers could learn a whole lot from older generations. I'm not going to burn my fingers on if they were better programmers or not, but I do believe they have a far greater understanding of the actual workings of a computer. Does the average 'app developer' have any clue whatsoever about low-level code, let alone something like assembly?
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RE: Mostly Bull hockey
by Doc Pain on Sun 30th Sep 2012 05:51 UTC in reply to "Mostly Bull hockey"
Doc Pain
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I've met that generation, there were some good ones, some terrible ones, some okay ones. Just like today.

Maybe it's the changing kind of job markets today that lets bad programmers easily "hide" lack of skills to gain job positions they are not really qualified for. Why am I thinking this? Because I meet them nearly every day: People occupying a precious job place described as programmer, developer, engineer, even in upper management - and not being able to deal with the most basic tasks that one would suggest with those jobs. I'm sure there have been such "clever guys" in the past, but I assume it was not as easy in the past to get into a job position and stay there, no matter how incompetent one may be...

Maybe it's also today's job descriptions that do not require basic knowledge about how computers work, instead they emphasize expertise in one of today's favourite flavor of scripting language, web framework or tool.

I'd like to suggest reading Jeff Atwood's article "Why Can't Programmers.. Program?" from his "Coding Horror" blog:

There may be other follow-up blog entries that are worth reading.

They never scaled real time apps cross datacenters or dealt with the flood of data some of us deal with. I think the real thing is that more people today call themselves programmers when all they really know how to do is install drupal on godaddy.

No problem - it seems that that's all they're expected to do. For everything else... "We have a company for that!", refering to the continuous trend of oursourcing particular tasks, even "sub-tasks of program development" fall into that category. The hope of some "decision makers" is that there will be more qualified and motivated programmers somewhere else that only costs a dime, because the "big money" is already spent on the "programmers" (quotes deserved in this example) of the own company that cannot get the job done.

In my experience, you find good and bad programmers in the same distribution as in the past, with one difference: Good programmers were the ones having a job, bad programmers lost it. Today, bad programmers keep the jobs, good programmers are "cheap wage slaves" or even unemployed. One of the reasons (at least here in Germany) is that employed programmers get corporate support for attending "courses" where they earn certificates. That doesn't imply that they actually earn new skills, learn stuff or gain knowledge! They just get a shiny paper, costing 5000 - 10,000 Euro or more. On the job market, that makes them "valuable". Those programmers who invest their free time to learn new things, code, exercise, test and try out new things, don't get those certificates, that makes them "inferior" on the job market. Even worse, if they don't match particular job titles (from previous employments), they sometimes don't have the chance to be considered for a job that would perfectly meet their knowledge and experience. But no shiny papers, no job, or just a low-level wage: "Why should I pay you to solve my problem? I'm paying more than enough for my own staff of superstar programmers." (I've actually been told that by a lead developer.)

Maybe job markets work differently in more developed countries - where actually present skills and knowledge count. I really hope so...

I would generally say that those who are actually interested in what they are doing have the chance to get good or even excellent programmers, while those who just do it "as a job" and not really being interested in what's related to be a good programmer, will be doomed to stay bad programmers.

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