Friday 10 December 2010

Old-skool, Nu-skool

I think it's pretty fair to say that software developers are pretty particular creatures. We like both our physical and virtual operating environments to be just so and the slightest variation or disturbance in these environments is hugely detrimental to our efficiency.

It struck me the other day that despite the constant advances in so many areas of software (and as an aside: how many other non-academic professions all-but-require the level of attentiveness to the latest developments in the field? Certain areas of medicine?), a number of the things developers like best simply have not changed in the last 15 years or more!

What am I talking about?

  • UNIX-style servers - once you're away from the .NET world, you just won't see anyone hosting anything on a Windows box

  • Command-lines - closely related to the first point, but developers will often still choose to type rather than click, even on their own desktop. Cygwin is clear evidence that a powerful command-line is a powerful developer tool.

  • vi[m] - it just never goes away. Developers who probably first used it in university - and what learning curve that is! - never forget those basic keystrokes, no matter how long it's been between <Esc>:wq's. And how quickly the power-moves come back. It's a text-editing supercharger.

Despite their age, these aspects of the ideal developer environment are actually cherished. Held up as shining examples of refined excellence. Not everything old is gold though ...

If you hear the unmistakable shriek of a dot-matrix printer, in an office, here in the second decade of the twenty-first century, JUST RUN.

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