Tom Ortega II

Us vs. Them: Let’s stop it already

In Business, Programming, Technology and Software on May 28, 2007 at 7:41 pm

I’m just now reading a May 9th Post by Jeff Atwood. He brings up the “Us vs Them” thing, in regards to Microsoft and Open-Source developers. While it’s a fun read, the best nugget deals with neither side of the fence. Instead, it deals with every developer and an attitude that needs to change.

“As far as I’m concerned, every software developer, regardless of what’s on their tool belt, has the same goal: to craft useful computer software that delights users. We’re allies, not enemies. Friendly rivalry I can understand. But the rabid partisanship that I typically see– on both sides of the fence– isn’t helping us.”

I can’t agree more. I would have to say that until eBay I didn’t think that being allies was possible. For years now, I’ve been interacting with middle tiers not written in the same language as the front tier. Every time, it was the same thing. The developers of the middle tier would say, “Why are you developing the front tier in THAT language? You know, our language can do the front end too.” Then it usually goes downhill and bugs are the front end’s fault because it’s the “lesser” tool and soon it becomes them vs us. At eBay, the Flex team (front end) and the Java teams (middle/back end) realized they had a common goal, got to work and delivered. It was a great feeling not having that animosity and to be a “team”.

As we (developers) get on board with projects, we need to keep that goal in mind and not the technologies. Let’s deliver the best software we can, regardless of what tools we use. In the end, that will make life better for all of us.

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  1. I can agree with you in part. I think “language wars” are silly. But Microsoft vs. open source is a slightly different story. Microsoft isn’t interested in “friendly rivals”. It’s only concern is to dominate.

    As for Jeff Atwood, well he’s a Microsoft guy. No doubt he feels “we should all work together”. I’m sure he thinks it’s silly that people are concerned about trivial things such as the freedom to share. Since Microsoft is such a “benevolent dictatorship” why don’t we all donate our code directly to them? Let them patent every single bit of code ever written.

    Fighting over whether Ruby is better than Python or Vi is easier to use *is* stupid. There are people who are productive in Ruby and there are people who get things done in Python. Both Vi and Emacs are powerful editors and it’s really a matter of personal preference. You can’t compare that to the fact that Microsoft wants to destroy our freedom to be creative and to share the results of our creativity with others. Microsoft is, simply put, evil.

    Btw, I make a living without ever having to touch a single Microsoft product. Also I gladly give away anything I do. There is not a line of code that I don’t share. Funny enough I don’t go hungry, although according to a popular myth, I should be starving by now.

  2. The only problem is that if Microsoft gets its way with its currently revealed tactic of demanding royalty payments for software patents from open source projects, it could kill off open source software. That’s Microsoft’s goal in this aggressive new tactic. This is what people are taking a stance against: On the open source front, it’s just self defense.

    While Microsoft continues to attack open source in this manner, I will personally do everything in my power not to support them with my dollar vote.

  3. @Lorenzo: I will say this in regards to making a living off of Microsoft. By “accident”, I started my business career making money on Microsoft products (Access 2.0 programming in 1996). It probably wasn’t until 2000 that I “discovered” ColdFusion and haven’t really left Macromedia, now Adobe, products since. At home, we have 2 Macs and a PS3 (with Linux that’s just waiting for me to find some time to tinker with). My conference business is completely ran without Microsoft products, since we run virtually with no physical office it’s not hard since MS’s competitors are setup nicer for folks like us.

    However, my day jobs have been in corporate America since 1999. Therefore, my corp issued laptops have been Windows boxes and my desktops at work have been Windows machines with both running the full Office suite. Also, while writing articles/stories over the years, Word’s Track Changes feature has been the only “collaboration” tool that has proven usable (Buzzword @ http://www.virtub.com/ may finally change that though).

    With the exception of Office for Mac (for Word) and Virtual PC for Mac (to run Flex Builder for awhile), Microsoft hasn’t received much money from me. However, I’m still tied to it in my corporate life, so I can’t say I’m Microsoft free.

    I do agree with you on the “You gotta support the MS environment or starve” myth. Thanks to the wonderful products from Adobe (via Macromedia), I do not starve nor have I had any problem trying to find work.

    @Aral: I think the problem there lies with our broken patent system. From the ridiculously obvious patents of “1-Click” to other patents such as “a windowing system”, the overworked and under-educated (in tech, at least) Patent Office is the stem of most of our woes. Yes, Microsoft may be taking advantage of the broken system, but it’s the same system (i.e. the US government) that also takes it to court for monopolistic practices, etc. (whether that’s effective or not is another issue).

    The good thing is that a lot of smart people don’t work for Microsoft. Therefore, while Microsoft may be up to some shady business practices, I can’t help but think that its competitors will find ways around them. That’s one reason why I love capitalism, even the big boys fall eventually. The only problem then is if the new big boy is any better by the time it wins.

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