Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Software craftsmanship, cathedrals and developer archectypes

I recently came across the online version of the Cathedral and the Bazaar and was particularly struck by this rule:
“5. When you lose interest in a program, your last duty to it is to hand it off to a competent successor.”
Unfortunately I've broken that rule in the way I've handled the Traveller T20 Starship Design Spreadsheet ... fortunately few people would care.

More to the point I started to study how cathedrals were built, as I suspect that there is another analogy that can drawn with them, one of software craftsmanship - particularly as I get paid to build proprietary software, not open-source.

Unfortunately I haven't the time to develop these ideas more now, but I don't want to just generate a bunch of bookmarks to be forgotten later. So here are some of the interesting articles I've come across in this area:

The Meaning of the Arts and Crafts Movement
“The most imposing monuments of man's skill with tools are those great mediaeval churches and halls which were built in England and on the continent during the time when men who worked with their hands still sought through their craft to express the religious feelings and the craving for beauty which were still a glory and a source of humble pride. The stone carver who cut the pillars of Melrose or of Rosslyn or of York, wrought to the glory of God, consciously feeling that if his work was good it was because it was sanctified by its end. He was recognized as one interested in the success of the whole undertaking and could therefore be accorded a freedom impossible today, when the average journeyman has little thought of his work as a means of expression, considering it too often only as a means of livelihood.”

How BLogs and Wikis Can Help Knowledge Management
“From my window, I can see the great cathedral of York Minster, which was built over 700 years ago by generations of skilled craftsmen. They would have learnt their trade through serving seven-year apprenticeships, where they picked up the skills of their craft by observing the more experienced craftsmen.”

Becoming a Better Developer: Know Your Archetype
“Developers come in many shapes and sizes, but over the years I've noticed a handful of archetypes that we tend to embody. These archetypes are the fundamental building blocks of who we are as developers, and two to three of them exist in each of us in varying quantities”

Medieval Cathedrals
“Each master of his own trade ran a workshop for his own particular trade – so a master mason would employ a number of masons who were trusted enough to be considered competent to work on a cathedral as they, themselves, worked towards becoming a master.”

Nine Things Developers Want More Than Money
“Money is a motivating factor for most of us, but assuming comparable pay, what is it that makes some companies attract and retain developers while others churn through them like toilet paper?”

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