Software Development has a huge problem that, if left unchecked, will kill it. I think we are seeing evidence of this toxin already. It’s the idea of “Real Developers”. This idea that unless you do certain things and act a certain way, you are not, regardless of what you can create, a real software developer.
This idea comes out in languages (Java vs .NET, Ruby vs php vs Python, etc.), tools (real developers use vim), hardware (all Ruby developers use Macs) and so on. It also manifests itself in how we code; real programmers refactor or use TDD or don’t use TDD. We are setting the entry bar so high that no one will ever want to become a developer.
The question I want to ask is why? Software development doesn’t need gatekeeping. Instead of putting people down for doing things differently, we should be embracing every person that wants to be a developer. Instead, we create artificially high entry and performance bars, write articles about how hard development is, and only hire people identical to ourselves.
The logical extension question is why are developers so threatened by people that are different (race, sex, ideology)? I have my theories, although writing about them will probably get me in a lot of trouble. So all I will say is that it needs to change. We all need to work at helping software development to grow up. We need to move tech out of its college years and help it move into its thirties. Software development should become ubiquitous and we should be the ones helping the world fall in love with what we do everyday.
Now, don’t misunderstand me, I am not against healthy discussion. I think understanding what good development means is very important. But at the end of the day, does it really matter if someone uses Vim, RubyMine, or Coda 2? If a website works and solves users’ needs does it matter if it was created in .NET, php or Ruby on Rails? Does it really matter if a refactoring was taken to what you think is its logical conclusion if the application works?
A culture built on teaching, openness, and growing talent will get us a lot further then the mirrortocracy that we have now. Until tech is a healthy mix of sexes and races, we have work to do.