usable in any place a human can be used



[caption id="attachment_265" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="i know how you feel"]i know how you feel[/caption]

Finally! I am finally about to start working at my new project after all those squishy human beings got done drawing pretty charts and signing dead pieces of trees. I now can put myself into the beautiful cold clutches of the machine again and get back to what I do best, code stuff. I'll be moving from .Net web development to Java middle ware development, and I'm excited to get back to programming.

That seemed like quite the dig at .Net, I don't intend it to, it's just been my personal experience. The problem with the .Net projects I've worked on is that they've been amalgams of third party libraries, and I've been in charge of gluing them together. This isn't a weakness, some would say its a great strength, drop some cash and boom, big problem solved by a nice clean little dll (or 4). I will say that it greatly reduces time to market which is a Good Thing© and that it lets you get down to the customizations that clients spend the big bucks on.

The problem is that I'm a programmer, not a customizer. I like to write code, not tweak little settings here or there (although as a nerd I'm a fan of that as well). The .Net environment always seemed like a bunch of black boxes that I was just trying to lash together in a pretty enough package to call it done. Any actual code I wrote was always just taking business rules and turning them into something a computer can understand. That's ok, in fact companies make a lot of money doing this type of work, I just don't as a programmer feel fulfilled by it.

Now though I'm heading into a project where there is a problem without a solution, something that actually needs to be designed, implemented, tested, deployed, iterated, and other fun nerd words. I'm excited to be back to programming, but I'm worried about technological baggage. What is technological baggage you ask, let me find you an example (anonymized, of course).

function Recalculate(...)
if (isNaN(CleanNumber(ctrl.value)) ||
CleanNumber(ctrl.value) == "")
ctrl.value = "0";

var newValue = parseFloat(CleanNumber(ctrl.value));
var oldValue = parseFloat(CleanNumber(prevCtrl.value));
var diff = newValue - oldValue;

ctrl.value = newValue;
prevCtrl.value = parseFloat(CleanNumber(changedPrevControl.value))
+ diff;

//Snip some similar code
FormatMoneyWithCommas(ctrl, 0, 0, 0);

There is nothing wrong with the above javascript it works just fine. But look at it, that's .Net wrapped in script tags if I've ever seen it. There are many non-javascript things going on in this code, anyone familiar with javascript will see them straight away. My intent is not to shame the author of the code or to call it out as bad javascript, it is merely to show that when steeped in a technology it can be very hard to pull yourself out. I picked on .Net but I've see plenty of javascript written like java, in fact I've gotten actual java code thrown between script tags back from offshore "resources" before.

There is a lot to keep jumbled up in our heads when we are programming, to lessen this burden we adopt naming conventions, and calling conventions, and all kinds of conventions and that is a good thing. The bad thing is carrying your languages conventions into other languages, its a kind of linguistic egocentricity that makes the natives upset.

Now I am trying to purge the .Net from my fingers and get them ready for Java again. I'm sure I won't remember all the little gotchas, but the important part is to be aware. There are some basic strategies for carrying over as little baggage as possible.

  • Google - Go and google Language X for Language Y developers, Language X and Langauge Y can be almost any combination of languages and there is a good chance someone wrote an article, feature matrix, common pitfalls type document for it.

  • When in Rome - If you are going into an established project, adopt its idioms.

  • Tutorials - Even if you know the language you are heading into, go read a few tutorials, brush up on the basics

I remember the painful period between Java and .Net, being frustrated trying to figure out what the hell a HashMap was called (Dictionary) or wanting to declare what my functions throw. I'm sure I will have the reverse, but the one thing I'm looking forward to is getting back to Eclipse, I love Eclipse, and I will not miss Visual Studio at all.

1 comment:

  1. [...] point here is that when you learn something new, it’s new, don’t bring along your technological baggage. If the community all rallies around some IDE (.Net, I’m looking at you) then for flying [...]