Brainpower Makes the Difference

A reader disputes that prospects for programmers are declining, arguing instead that it is brainpower and know-how that make the difference today. If you have them, you'll be fine.

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 editor@visualstudiomagazine.com.

Brainpower Makes the Difference
The general decline of prospects for programmers has been discussed ad nauseum, and R. A. Isaak's regurgitation added nothing to what has already been said [see Guest Opinion, "The Incredible Shrinking Programmer," August 2005]

The truth of the matter is that there are many incompetent programmers in our field masquerading as programmers, and they lack the skill and the mental horsepower to do work that justifies their compensation. Unfortunately, there is no quick and easy way to flush out the programmers who simply show up to work for a paycheck, but do sub par work. These people will lose their jobs first due to their own inability to produce quality software and their lack of incentive to stay current. In my opinion, the economy is merely returning to a situation where a programmer must be a smart and creative problem solver, as well as someone who must love what he does.

When the dust settles, there will be fewer programmers in the United States, but the ones standing will be the producers who are irreplaceable and highly valued assets to companies.

The future is bright for the talented, as it should be in a field where the most important qualification is intellect. Not everyone qualifies.

Greg Chen, San Francisco, Cal.

Give .NET Another Try
A recent letter by Peter Banks complaining about the lack of progress in Visual Basic post .NET irritated me [see Letters to the Editor, ".NET: Too Little Progress, May 2005]. Apparently, he simply doesn't need Internet-ready applications or services, but writes for niche departments inside his company. Of course he isn't impressed with Visual Studio .NET. He isn't creating projects where using .NET is a distinct advantage, so even a newer version wouldn't be of much help to him.

I am a project leader with more than 20 years' experience in development, from the mainframe to client/server. I also have years of experience using VC++, Visual InterDev and VB, and I now use VB.NET or C#.NET for all new development. While I can appreciate the writer's love of VB 6.0, I must say from experience that the new .NET development platform is by far the best I have ever used. It far outstrips old VB Classic in usability and reusability. In the past, I felt Visual C++ had distinct advantages over VB, but these advantages have largely disappeared in the.NET Framework.

My company creates intranet and extranet applications. Yes, I could write the apps as old VB DLLs, but I've found it much faster to build and deploy applications using .NET. After using ASP for several years, the new .NET platform has been a godsend. I haven't written a client side application using VB 6.0 in six or seven years, so the only venues I even use it for now are background programs that move data from here to there, or data conversions, to create Excel spreadsheet reports, and so on. You know, behind the scenes stuff.

As a developer, you must stay up with the bleeding edge or face the possibility of an aging skill set that isn't what employers are looking for. I would never instruct someone to throw his copy of Visual Studio 6.0 CDs in the trash, but I would urge the person who wrote this letter to give Visual Studio .NET another try.

Dave McReynolds, Fishers, IND.

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