[prog] State of software engineering profession

Mary mary-linuxchix at puzzling.org
Sun Apr 13 18:42:26 EST 2003

On Sat, Apr 12, 2003, Jimen Ching wrote:
> I am beginning to see an explanation for the point I was trying to
> make.  Which was an observation on the software industry about how it
> is so willing to accept the poor state of the profession.  Robert, if
> your reasoning is a representation of the industry in general, then I
> can see how we got here and how we are stuck here.  But this might
> pose a difficult problem.  If I'm having this much trouble just trying
> to describe the situation, imagine the effort in selling the solution
> to the industry as a whole.

I think part of the problem is that although you've talked about the
poor standards and general blinkered view of the software industry, and
implied that you in particular do not share these views and therefore
rise far above the common or garden variety software engineer, that you
have not sufficiently proven your status.

The common phrase in free software is "show us the code". Saying that
you want this project to do X, Y and Z is interesting, but doesn't cause
X, Y and Z to happen, whereas coding does.

In this case, I'd be willing to replace it with "show us the plan".
Where have you applied it? Where do you intend to apply it? Where have
you seen best practices succeed? What was the nature of their success?
Why are you qualified to dismiss current industry practice as beneath
contempt? Where are you going right and the rest of the industry wrong?

Something that often occurs in discussions like this is that you get a
bunch of worst case scenarios thrown at you, counter-arguments, the
kitchen sink flies dangerously close to your head at some point or
another. In this particular case, that's because most programmers
recognise the inadequacy of software engineering techniques as they
exist, and have seen new techniques fail to live up to their promise,
not because they believe the current situation is the pinnacle of
software engineering and that no improvement is needed.

You will need to take counter-arguments, counter-examples, cautions and
scepticism seriously, rather than dismiss them as part of the problem.


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