Issue No.01 - January/February (1998 vol.15)
DOI Bookmark: http://doi.ieeecomputersociety.org/10.1109/MS.1998.10007
What a variety of issues Ed Yourdon addresses in his "A Tale of Two Futures." In that diverse collection of topics, I'd like to focus on a fairly obscure part of what he has to say: the quality of today's programmers. Not because it's important to Ed, necessarily, but because it's important to me. First, let me tell you where I'm coming from. I like to tell people that my head is in software's academic world, but that my heart is in its practice. What do I mean by this? I have done the academic software thing. I've been a professor of software engineering, the director of a software engineering program, a visiting professor at a university in Sweden, and a member of the Software Engineering Institute's technical staff (which, at the time, was far more academic than practical). I've accumulated more than a decade's worth of academic experience. I have done the industrial software thing. I've worked as a maintainer, then a developer, team leader, acquisition manager, and R&D specialist. I've served as a consultant. All in all, I've accumulated more than three decades of industrial experience. Drawing on this mixed background to mull over the formative experiences of my career, I find that it's the practitioner moments that I come back to. I recall the brilliant, strange, and wonderful developers I worked with and the exciting, challenging, and world-changing applications I worked on. From deep in the trenches, I acquired the gritty, hard-won lessons that let me solve real problems with sheer brainpower, getting the awesomely dumb computer to do awesomely brilliant things by infusing it with just the right software. I still marvel at what we practitioners have accomplished. For these reasons, I take offense when people knock software practice. And Ed has, in spades, with his prediction of software's future.
Robert L. Glass, "In Praise of Practice", IEEE Software, vol.15, no. 1, pp. 30-31, January/February 1998, doi:10.1109/MS.1998.10007