I often hear the phrase “Developers are a commodity”. Statements such as this are supported with reasoning along the lines of “The architects/experts will do the analysis & design, while the developers just cut code.” The developer is therefore seen as a pseudo disposable entity, with no key differentiators amongst peers; low skilled and readily interchangeable. It is easy to see how these ideas have evolved, especially when we compare our industry to others. However, these metaphors feel fundamentally flawed. For some industries other than IT, the low level of detail provided in plans yield quasi-robotic implementation, especially as the design can only be interpreted and realised in one way. In IT, whatever methodology / framework you choose, the developer invariably has to make choices. So, maybe there is room for some commoditisation? However, is the industry as a whole making a large sweeping judgement, followed by misguided, potentially costly decisions, when referring to IT developers as a commodity?  

6 Comments

  1. Hi jas, but if one sees how much support a uniface coder gets from the IDF for his day-to-day work: isn't it still true what a SWhouse boss mentioned 2008 at the german UserGroup Meeting in Stuttgart on improving the IDF functionality i coined openIDF? "i don't care if my developers work an hour more each day ..."
  2. Hi Uli, An interesting question arises from your comment: “At what point does overtime become counter productive?” Regards, Jas.
  3. Hi Jas, let's not see it from the SWhouse boss. From the view of the employee working with that tool IDF it reads: why does this workbench not support me to do my job in the LEAST AMOUNT of time? The nasty consequence no matter if overtime is unpayed (the most common situation) or you get some money for it is in your social environment the image "allways late at the family, late at the pub, unsocial chap, can not keep dates, ..." IMHO, it would cost next to nothing to give the "open component" window in the IDF an enhancement to "remember" the last typed profile instead of forcing the IDF users to retype this time and time again.
  4. see my comment on Eddys blog: Is Refactoring Code Worth It? even a relative simple refactoring task: "move entries to the single-best home" has a lot of time-consuming obstacles when it comes to the IDF functionality: take a couple of lines out of one trigger and move it to some other trigger means a lot of clicks to open the "correct" code window. even more complicate when the "other trigger" does not belong to the same component-object so you have to change entities and/or field context ...
  5. Hi Jason, Well, yes, developers are a commodity. Any person (virtually) can be taught how to write an if - else - endif statement in any programming language. However, given a framwork like Uniface, the answer is a resounding NO. Another example, a CMS called Drupal - written in php. Anyone can pick up php as a development language, but building / developing useful modules for Drupal is not for the faint-hearted - and not for a mere php developer.... Let's go back to Uniface.... Being a Uniface developer is relatively straight forward - however, because of the inherent complexities of an enterprise size development, impact analysis and code reuse become critical factors for the Uniface developer. These design & maintenance issues are normally not considered by a 'normal' developer - maybe we should coin a Uniface developer as an 'enterprise developer' - to create a differentiation in value offered?
  6. Hi Knut, Nice perspective. Maybe this is why it has alway felt strange to think of anyone in our community as a commodity. Thanks, Jason.