Confessions of an Opinionated Software Developer

8 PM January 30, 2003

Hi. My name’s Alan and I’m an Opionated Software Developer.

(Together: Hi, Alan!)

It’s been five minutes since I last pontificated on a subject for which I have no more than second-hand, anecdotal evidence.

You see, I’ve been building commercial software for more than 15 years. My first job used an IBM 4381 mainframe for development. It had 16 Megabytes of memory, cost a million dollars and ran DOS/VSE. DOS stood for Disk Operating System and it meant it, because it wasn’t too long previously that there had been other kinds of operating systems. The old-timers would point out where the card-punches had once been installed whenever anyone complained about the block-mode line editor. For programming you had a choice of COBOL or assembler. You could tell when the assembler programmers tried to write COBOL, because they used 77 levels instead of structuring their data.

We used a 4341 for production. The 4341 was half a 4381 because it had only half the memory and cost half as much. It was half the height too. If you don’t believe me, here’s a picture of a 4381 and a 4341. But our 4381 was a nice, deep, IBM blue.

With experience like that, I can cite irrelevant anecdotes from a dozen technologies not even tangentially related to the topic at hand, thereby fortifying my opinion and sealing any argument to my satisfaction.

Looking back over the years, I can see that the one thing all computer programmers develop is opinions, and I am not exempt.
For instance: I have a preferred hardware vendor, operating system, computer language, graphics card, text editor, IDE, brace position, tab stop setting, maximum line length, software development process, bug tracking system, testing tool, magazine, newspaper, web browser, email format, font size, monitor resolution and colour scheme. I can spend all day telling you why mine’s better than any other one you may choose, and I find no lack of peers willing to engage in such a conversation.

Well enough is enough! No longer will Alan spout his conjectures at random. All of his speculations, theories and thoughts now have a home, safely out of the verbal realm, right here on this blog.

My family, friends and co-workers will be pleased.

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(Posted to Software Development)


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