[Comments have been turned off on this post because I know that it has the potential to create a flurry of comments (read "flames")... if you want to comment on/flame this post then do it on your own blog...]
Ok, after a couple weeks I've decided to indirectly go after some things that were said in the infamous O/R Mapper war (I'm not going to link to it... if you want to search, go look for "Frans Bouma" and you should find it). I hinted at a few things in my "The Database War" post. [Warning: I'm not so indirect when I get to the end]
I have had the opportunity to mentor a number of developers who all turned out pretty good. I've also mentored a couple developers that weren't meant for this profession and they have since moved on (or away from me and my ideas).
"What am afraid of is what I need to master"
One of the things I learned along the way is that the things that have the ability to really bite me in the butt are the things I don't know. I had a "student" ask me what they needed to do to truly master the art of programming; s/he was hoping to have arrived in 6-12 months and felt they s/he would be depressed in a year if s/he wasn't writing... s/he and I joke about this often now that s/he has truly arrived (or is near enough that the landing gear is down and the lights of the airplane are on). S/he was thinking about diving into the depths of the .Net framework so that s/he could truly understand thread programming or some other advanced topic (pick one). In a stroke of genius beyond myself (it was spiritual for me), I asked her/him "what scares you? what really scares you, because that my friend is what will really be the thing that hurts you..." The answer I got was something like "well, uhmm, I do need to learn SQL... but we have DBAs!" My response was that a developer who can truly do both database programming and the front end programming (ASP.Net, WinForms, etc.) -- and do both parts well -- is a person that most companies value highly.
I also told her/him of my experiences where I was transformed into a Sr. Developer when I was handed some source code that I have never seen before and was told that I would rewrite it and become the certified expert in the code; the last thing the person told me will stick in my mind forever... "I was never here; I have never heard of this project; I disavow all knowledge." This was followed by a sick sounding laughter... Despite the pains, I grew so much as developer during this time. I learned to take junk and create something that looks a little less like garbage (although I'm sure someone cursed my name over it at least once). The point was that after this experience I was unafraid of anything. I strengthened my AccessSQL skills as well as learned T-SQL and SQL Server 6.5 (I already knew VB quite well). The next job which happened about 1 year later I learned Oracle P/L SQL (8i) and learned ColdFusion (a skill that I will deny having today) and starting doing some ASP/VBScript coding. A year later I went to work for Hydrogen Media Inc (BTW, out of business) where I used both my SQL skill sets and added even more skills. Database servers do not scare me nor does SQL in any flavor... and neither does anything else new as it relates to syntax.
If you can do anything how valuable are you? <grin />
Since it's not truly possible to know everything; if you can learn how to do anything, isn't that the same thing?
And that, Virginia (she's the girl who wondered about Santa Claus), Frans, and Thomas T, is why O/R Mappers concern me: people are deciding to forego learning certain skills that I think are actually critical to them and to the industry... Besides, I really don't want to have to deal with any more "Sr. Developers" who don't do databases.
| posted on Wednesday, June 22, 2005 5:03 PM