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Software Craftsmanship 2009

I, too, have become involved in Jason Gorman‘s Software Craftsmanship mini-conference. If you’re interested, now is a good time to visit the site and propose a session.

This conference aims to showcase and champion the “hard skills”, and champion the idea of software craftsmanship and the ways in which it can be encouraged and supported in the workplace, in schools and colleges, and among the wider software development community.

Maybe it’s just a hubris, maybe craftsmanship is the wrong word, but we want to promote the idea that skill and experience (i.e. us) are of value in software development.


  1. Andrew says:

    Steve, you’re doing some great work – I completely agree that it should be promoted as a craft. For a long time, I used to think it was all about engineering and science – after all I have a CS degree.

    Over time I have come to realize its far more about art and craftsmanship. I would love to have developers serve apprenticeships, standing on the shoulders of the great who have been practicing for years and ‘get it’.

  2. Colin Jack says:

    Superb, definitely hoping to attend.

  3. Thanks for the comments, guys. I must admit to being in two minds about the title. “Real” engineering disciplines include skill and judgement at their higher levels, but software people seem to have just picked up the bureaucracy. Here’s hoping we can do something about it…

  4. Hi Steve,
    this looks interesting. The idea that skill and experience are of value is difficult to get across to those that would treat us as interchangeable ‘resources’.

    The difficulty I see is how to get those kinds of people attending conferences like this.


  5. @Channing. I’ve submitted a session on “How can we tell the difference?” to try to raise this and related issues.

  6. @Andrew
    I’d say there is craft too in getting tens of thousands of parts to work together, all that at a cost so that the company can make money. I am talking about most manufacturing companies.

    Having myself gone through the realisation through failures (ask Jason) that it takes years to understand what is good design/code/practice I would say that the real issue with IT is not around tools, practices or whatnots. IT was very much a engineering skill until the Internet came where every 15 years old geek was dreaming of setting up a multi-million dollar company from their dorm room. Since then it’s been the far west where the speed of invention and re-invention has continually accelerated, and the global economy too and its expectations.


  7. @Daniel. To tell you the truth, I don’t think much software has been engineering through most of its history. One of the things that attracted me into the business was that, in my day, the previous generation was full of interesting crazies. In /their/ day there had been no career path, so most people just drifted into it and some discovered a skill.

    The downside was that there were a great many people in the Data Processing days who had neither skill nor training, and the tools were much worse than now. We’re still living with the backlash to their inability to deliver.

  8. @steve

    Being in my early 30s I am from the Web geeks boom if you wish and I can’t quite relate to your personal situation. I turned geek only through computer games and hearing about all those dorm room stories, and I’m sure it’s the same to a lot others, one wouldn’t want to take the risk of a career, especially without proper qualification, if it’s known it’s going to be a tough task to get through the ranks.
    I agree that things have moved on but in the same way the world was different with the kind of expectations that we just can’t relate to now. Before then IT was not taking such a big part of the companies budgets, and I am not talking about companies in the technology sectors. We’ve reached a situation now where IT has been marketed for so many years, the most by companies such as Microsoft, as the most tangible asset a company can use to gain a competitive advantage.
    Added to that a faster global economy I guess it was only logical to end up in a situation where software quality was not *that much* of importance. Being first at *something* was more important than anything.
    Anyway I truly thing that software quality is of extreme importance having personally suffered from making badly informed decisions. But I think it’s equaly important for the business to understand that quality software has its values and I would say that’s where half of the battle needs to be fought on.

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