D'Arcy from Winnipeg
Solution Architecture, Business & Entrepreneurship, Microsoft, and Adoption

Solutioners, Solutioners, Solutioners, Solutioners…

Monday, May 23, 2011 9:41 PM

I’m crazy excited about the technology industry right now. We’re seeing evolution happen in real time, and at all levels.

From the major platforms, we’re seeing Google’s overall story taking shape, Microsoft playing catch-up but showing with WP7 and Windows 7 that they are very much still a competitor, and Apple continuing to bolster their empire beyond fanboys with their quality technology and innovations.

Then there’s the software platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, and others that are becoming daily requirements rather than occasional entertainment.

Throw in cloud computing, HTML5, and other paradigm shifts, and you have the makings of a fantastic decade coming up.

Here’s the thing though: You can’t get excited about the technology alone. You can’t just look at HTML5, or cloud, or Google’s Chromebooks, or the iPad in a silo. More and more, the economy and business world of the second decade of the 00’s needs solutioners.

When I graduated college back in 2001, the Java vs. Microsoft religious war was full on. Microsoft actually had the J# language as part of .NET 1.0 to help entice Java developers over to Microsoft development and a language that mirrored Sun’s. Over time the Alt.NET movement arose and did some fantastic work to challenge Microsoft and the community to be better and adopt more professional development practices. Then other technologies like Ruby, Scala, Apple’s Objective-C, and various tools and approaches emerged, flooding the ecosystem with a vast array of choices for developers.

Unfortunately, this also brought with it new religious wars. I saw a quote recently on Twitter, which in turn was a quote from someone presenting at a conference:

If you aren’t developing with TDD and BDD, then you’re writing shit code.

So now its not which platform is better, its what development methodology/toolset is better (although the platform debates are still alive and well, fuelled by new offerings from the major players).

I get very frustrated reading this on my Twitter feed, because I think of all the energy and time wasted on this when solutions could have been developed, envisioned, and imagined.

The endless debates on which toaster does a better job of making toast gets us nowhere. Discussions on how these technologies can better our lives, our communities, our governments, our businesses…that is where the real value of our skills resides.

I love those IBM commercials where they talk about some real-world problem being solved, and end it with a statement like “That’s the problems I’m solving. I’m an IBMer.” That should be our  mantra, regardless if we work for IBM or not. We should all be striving not just to be skilled experts in our chosen technology stacks, but to be professionals of substance – and in our industry, that substance is the value we bring through the solutions we create.

At a developer conference a number of years ago, Steve Ballmer delivered a keynote address to the audience. As he was sweating profusely, he led the auditorium into a chant of “Developers, Developers, Developers…”. I think we need another rousing chant like that again, but this time to call Solutioners. We need our industry to offer up people who can see the potential technology offers, regardless of platform or author. We need storytellers – people who can explain how a certain technology stack resulted in a business being more efficient, a charity reaching more of its target demographic, a government offering better services…that is what our industry’s legacy needs to grow into, not religious zealousness.

How fantastic would it be to go to a conference, and instead of seeing empty demos or stock databases, we see real-world uses of technology. How much more inspiring, how much more valuable, how much more resonant would that be? It can be a reality…we just need to put an end to our crusades.


# re: Solutioners, Solutioners, Solutioners, Solutioners…

Hey, that was my comment! The funny thing is I was warned not to take a hard line bcs ppl will call me out. But, I'm glad you did...

First off, let me wrap the quote in it's full context. The presentation was about my company's journey through TDD/BDD. The purpose was to share some of the lessons we learned and to highlight the classic struggles we encountered before committing to a structured approach to delivering quality software (which happens to be BDD/TDD). This presentation can be seen here: http://portal.sliderocket.com/BookedIN/TDD-BDD-Just-do-it

My closing statement was: "I've seen the problems that arise from poor quality code from the developer perspective, the pm perspective and now I have seen it from the perspective of an owner who has to pay for quality issues. And all I can tell you is, if you aren't developing with TDD/BDD, you're writing shit code".

Now, I could have said: "... if you aren't developing software using a structured approach that is proven to significantly increase quality of the product, then you're very likely to be writing code that is difficult to maintain and you will pay through the nose in qa costs." This would have been more the technically correct version of what I believe BUT it just doesn't have the same ring to it and, frankly, I just don't care about being politically correct (besides, sitting on the fence doesn't inspire anyone).

My message is intended to wake up developers and to get them to take more responsibility for delivering good software. BDD/TDD is the best development technique that I know that helps to further this cause. A good friend of mine (very devout TDD/BDD practitioner and teacher) once said: "If you show me a better technique/approach, I will use it.". So, it's not about being religious, it's about trying to further sound software development techniques that lead to awesome, exciting software products.

"shit" was just a metaphor ;) 5/24/2011 2:27 PM | Mike Iwasiow

# re: Solutioners, Solutioners, Solutioners, Solutioners…

Thanks for posting the comment Mike! You didn't need to ruin a perfectly good un-attributed sound-bite (tweet-bite?) by giving it CONTEXT though...geeze...

D 5/27/2011 12:01 AM | D'Arcy from Winnipeg

# re: Solutioners, Solutioners, Solutioners, Solutioners…

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