Part-Time Programming Doesn't Equal Mediocrity

The stereotype that hobbyists perform mediocre work is damaging. Value comes in delivering solutions in a timely manner, regardless of the tools, steps, or people used to achieve it.

Letters to Visual Studio Magazine are welcome. Letters must include your name, address, and daytime phone number to be considered for publication. Letters might be edited for form, fit, and style. Please send them to Letters to the Editor, c/o Visual Studio Magazine, 2600 El Camino Real, Suite 300, San Mateo, CA 94403; fax them to 650-570-6307; or e-mail them to [email protected].

Part-Time Programming ≠ Mediocrity
I'm writing in regards to Michael Caldwell's arrogant response to Kathleen Dollard's Guest Opinion, "Save the Hobbyist Programmer" [April 2004], and would like to refute his assertions stated in his response [Letters to the Editor, June 2004 ].

First, his idea that a part-time programmer (I hate the term hobbyist, because it implies that I do this just because I like it) equals a mediocre programmer—nothing could be further from the truth, and is just the sort of stereotyping that damages our profession to the general public. In reality, I have worked with many business professionals who do not devote their entire day to programming, but do excellent analysis and coding, and I would put their work up against a full-time programmer any day of the week. In today's "post-bubble world," as Mr. Caldwell puts it, profit and productivity are paramount, and that means many people wear many hats in an organization to ensure that business objectives are met. At the end of the day, we are simply attempting to meet business objectives with the resources available, and there are never enough programming resources to accomplish the business objectives at hand. The part-timer might not necessarily use the latest technique or tool, but chrome on the engine doesn't make it run any better. This doesn't mean there aren't bad programmers in the group, because there definitely are, but the same is true for full-timers. Just drop the elitism, and stop stereotyping your fellow workers.

Second, celebrating complexity and change as a tool for job security is the realm of the insecure. The primary reason for Microsoft's success with its toolset has been its ease of use. Having worked with VB from version 3 to .NET, I can safely say that Microsoft always improves the capabilities and performance of the toolset without sacrificing ease of use until VB.NET, and even then it didn't completely drop the ball, but just fumbled it a little for the sake of the framework. It's important to remember that new doesn't always equal better, and ease of use is just as powerful an attribute as performance. If Mr. Caldwell wants complexity, I suggest he move to other toolsets and languages.

The common theme across Mr. Caldwell's diatribe seems to be about job security, but keeping the part-timers out of the IDE and keeping the complexity and learning curve high will not protect his job. The only thing that will do this is providing a measured value to the company you work for, and value to a company is delivering solutions to business problems in a timely manner, regardless of the tools, steps, or people used to achieve it.

Matthew Sidden, North Wilkesboro, N.C.

About the Author

This story was written or compiled based on feedback from the readers of Visual Studio Magazine.

comments powered by Disqus


  • AI for GitHub Collaboration? Maybe Not So Much

    No doubt GitHub Copilot has been a boon for developers, but AI might not be the best tool for collaboration, according to developers weighing in on a recent social media post from the GitHub team.

  • Visual Studio 2022 Getting VS Code 'Command Palette' Equivalent

    As any Visual Studio Code user knows, the editor's command palette is a powerful tool for getting things done quickly, without having to navigate through menus and dialogs. Now, we learn how an equivalent is coming for Microsoft's flagship Visual Studio IDE, invoked by the same familiar Ctrl+Shift+P keyboard shortcut.

  • .NET 9 Preview 3: 'I've Been Waiting 9 Years for This API!'

    Microsoft's third preview of .NET 9 sees a lot of minor tweaks and fixes with no earth-shaking new functionality, but little things can be important to individual developers.

  • Data Anomaly Detection Using a Neural Autoencoder with C#

    Dr. James McCaffrey of Microsoft Research tackles the process of examining a set of source data to find data items that are different in some way from the majority of the source items.

  • What's New for Python, Java in Visual Studio Code

    Microsoft announced March 2024 updates to its Python and Java extensions for Visual Studio Code, the open source-based, cross-platform code editor that has repeatedly been named the No. 1 tool in major development surveys.

Subscribe on YouTube