My Secret Life as a Spaghetti Coder
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Those fluent in English know well the phrase "don't put all your eggs in one basket" (kindly linked for those unfamiliar with the idiom). If it is foolish enough to risk dropping the basket and breaking all of your eggs, it is doubly so to put all your eggs in someone else's basket. How could you control your destiny?

Don't do it that way is the advice from MJWTI this week.

In particular, I want to share one passage that resonated with me:
Somehow, as an industry, we fool ourselves into thinking market leader is the same thing as standard. So, to some people, it seems rational to make another company's product a part of their identities. Even worse, some base their entire careers around non-market-leading products -- at least until their careers fail so miserably that they have no choice but to rethink this losing strategy.
Let me repeat that: some people base their entire careers around non-market-leading products.

That sounds just about where I was 18 months ago. Today, I cannot imagine basing my career around a product, much less insignificant ones. I try to relate everything to myself in terms of ideas, and I try to regularly experiment with the unfamiliar. Even if I were not able to do some of it at work, it would be well worth the effort of spending a little time at home to do that.

Moving around at the whim of others. You assert no control over your own safety. If you were dropped, what would you do?

Have you felt that way? Do you still?

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That quote reminds me of so many CF developers I know, it's scary...

Posted by jp on Oct 05, 2007 at 10:31 AM UTC - 5 hrs

I learnt the hard way a few years ago that I can't trust my professional development to anyone but myself. Especially not trusting my employers.

but how about putting all your eggs in one technology stack, whether it's Adobe (for me from CF to Flex to eventually AIR) or Java or .NET (C#, ASP.NET). Surely that sort of thing is a safe bet?

Posted by barry.b on Oct 05, 2007 at 10:34 AM UTC - 5 hrs

"Even if I were not able to do some of it at work, it would be well worth the effort of spending a little time at home to do that"

I think that is a very valid point that I see many of my of co-workers ignoring. Many of the devs that I work with rely upon the company to provide them with training and\or exposure to different technologies. If the company is two years behind on a version, so are many of them.

Posted by Justin on Oct 05, 2007 at 11:09 AM UTC - 5 hrs

@jp - I was in that camp not too long ago =)

@barry.b - Actually, Chad talks about that. In fact, he starts the chapter off telling of the time he asked one of his employees "What do you want to do with your career?" He said he was disappointed with the answer of "I want to be a J2EE architect."

Even though the possibility may seem remote, suppose the landscape completely changes. We've seen it happen a couple of times already - from command lines to text-based apps to graphical apps to web apps.

Especially in the Adobe stack - what if ten years from now web applications is not the hot thing it is today? What use will that stack be? (Even if the next "thing" becomes AIR-like applications (which is certainly a possibility), what after that?)

Ten years ago few would have imagined that web programming would be the dominant industry it is today. What are we imagining ten years from now will look like?

Things change quicky like that in our industry, so while you're at it, take note of how what you are doing applies to programming in general - take the ideas from the stack and don't focus on the stack itself. In fact, if you are going that route, focus on two (or more) very different things so you can see how they relate and how they differ - in doing so I think you're in a much better position to take the /concepts/ from your work instead of the specifics. (I get the idea you try to do that anyway, based on things I've read from you)

@Justin - thanks for that. Obviously I agree, but I take it even further. Not only am I willing to take charge of my own improvement in knowledge and skill paying for books, schooling, conferences and the like, I'm also willing to buy my own tooling that makes me more productive.

Of course if I can get the company to pay for it that is great - but I don't use the fact that they won't as an excuse to limit myself.

Posted by Sam on Oct 05, 2007 at 02:05 PM UTC - 5 hrs

Well put, Sam.

Whenever I start feeling "comfortable" with the technologies I work with, I remind myself why I got started writing software in the first place - it's stimulating, challinging, rewarding, and FUN. If any of these aspects starts to fade for you, it's time to consider expanding your repertoire.

Posted by Seth Bienek on Oct 09, 2007 at 10:48 AM UTC - 5 hrs

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