The absolute worst testers you can possibly have are developers. They’re better than nothing. But barely. Even a mediocre tester will make your application better, and by proxy, encourage you to become a better developer. The very best testers will drag you, kicking and screaming if necessary, across the bug-bar threshold. Professional testers force you to become a better developer. Sometimes it’s painful. But in a good way, like a heavy workout.
You can certainly build open source software in .NET. And many do. But it never feels natural. It never feels right. Nobody accepts your patch to a core .NET class library no matter how hard you try. It always feels like you’re swimming upstream, in a world of small and large businesses using .NET that really aren’t interested in sharing their code with the world – probably because they know it would suck if they did, anyway. It is just not a native part of the Microsoft .NET culture to make things open source, especially not the things that suck. If you are afraid the things you share will suck, that fear will render you incapable of truly and deeply giving back. The most, uh, delightful… bit of open source communities is how they aren’t afraid to let it “all hang out”, so to speak.
So as a result, for any given task in .NET you might have – if you’re lucky – a choice of maybe two decent-ish libraries. Whereas in any popular open source language, you’ll easily have a dozen choices for the same task. Yeah, maybe six of them will be broken, obsolete, useless, or downright crazy. But hey, even factoring in some natural open source spoilage, you’re still ahead by a factor of three! A winner is you!
I’m not inclined to make grand pronouncements about the future of software, but if anything kills off commercial software, let me tell you, it won’t be open source software. They needn’t bother. Commercial software will gleefully strangle itself to death on its own licensing terms.
Nobody ever changed anything by remaining quiet, idly standing by, or remaining part of the faceless, voiceless masses. If you ever want to effect change, in your work, in your life, you must learn to persuade others.
Jeff Atwood of Coding Horror fame is expecting two more kids – twin baby girls. When something like this – a baby or two on the way – happens, it doesn’t go by unnoticed. It consumes your whole mind and forces you to think and rethink everything. Jeff is an excellent writer with a trained technical brain. So it makes reading his thoughts on parenthood especially interesting – it’s a crazy mix of logic and emotions.
It’s also a history lesson. The first four years of your life. Do you remember them? What’s your earliest memory? It is fascinating watching your child claw their way up the developmental ladder from baby to toddler to child. All this stuff we take for granted, but your baby will painstakingly work their way through trial and error: eating, moving, walking, talking. Arms and legs, how the hell do they work? Turns out, we human beings are kind of amazing animals. There’s no better way to understand just how amazing humans are than the front row seat a child gives you to observe it all unfold from scratch each and every day, from literal square zero. Children give the first four years of your life back to you.
Congratulations, Jeff, and good luck with the pregnancy!