Joel On Software

This is an extremely interesting read about software development and why good programmers are important to get at a high cost. The writer’s concept of a software business is: best working conditions –> best programmers –> best software –> profit. It is not about the matter of productivity and how many mediocre programmers can replace a good programmer cheaply. It is about what a good programmer or in a bigger sense, a good software developer, can bring to the company what a mediocre one cannot; never and ever.

He stated that the software marketplace, like the IT products marketplace, is something of a winner-takes-all system. You can’t afford to be number two, or to have a “good enough” product. He gave the example of the Apple iPod. The Apple iPod beats all other competition hands-down because it is built on style, happiness, and emotional appeal.

“Apple made a decision based on style, in fact, iPod is full of decisions that are based on style. And style is not something that 100 programmers at Microsoft or 200 industrial designers at the inaptly-named Creative are going to be able to achieve, because they don’t have Jonathan Ive, and there aren’t a heck of a lot of Jonathan Ives floating around.”

Other gems of examples he gave includes Winamp vs Windows Media Player and something about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. I leave them for you to read them yourself.

As a software developer myself, I am embarrassed to say that I still have a long way to go to being reasonably good. So I guess I have to continue working hard at improving my skills. I will now leave you with another paragraph from the article.

“Sadly, this doesn’t really apply in non-product software development. Internal, in-house software is rarely important enough to justify hiring rock stars. Nobody hires Dolly Parton to sing at weddings. That’s why the most satisfying careers, if you’re a software developer, are at actual software companies, not doing IT for some bank.”

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