Monthly Archives: January 2005

Why I’m the Company Curmudgeon

Why does SRT have 2 resident Microsoft experts and a non-Microsoft holdout?

SRT Solutions consists of 3 partners: Bill Wagner, Josh Holmes, and myself. Together, we mentor developers, working with them on projects so that they become self-sufficient in new technologies. Bill and Josh are particularly adept at Microsoft technologies, while I have made a name for myself embracing the “other” camp: Java, Unix, you name it. While we are all quite capable in both arenas, we clearly have our own pet languages, utilities, and programming environments.

Bill and Josh anxiously await the MSDN updates and install the latest and greatest betas of tools, languages, etc. I seek out alternate utilities, like Mozilla’s Firefox (web browser) and Thunderbird (email reader). I rarely use the DOS prompt, preferring instead the MKS Korn Shell and the Unix utilities that ship with MKS. I’ve been known to freak out my business partners a bit by editing something quickly in “vi” instead of notepad or another Microsoft utility.

I’ll be the first to admit that Microsoft has wonderful tools. They have the insight and the resources to put together a group of tools, especially for programming, that work great and make coming up to speed with their product very easy. This relieves their developers of having to choose a development environment. The Unix/Linux world does NOT have the same mentality. Instead, “you can use anything” is seen as an advantage. In truth, it may yet lead to the downfall of the “other” side. Programmers scramble to find tools to use together, and team discussions about “standardizing on tools” often turn ugly. Microsoft programmers who might be doing a simple project in Java, for example, are turned off by the whole thing and often never write another Java program. On the other hand, I have also been stuck using Microsoft tools, where the tools do some “black magic”, generate code, and it’s hard to know what they did or to undo it. This is not as much of a problem in the “do it yourself” camp.

So, are those small incidents why I persist in my quest for good Unix/Linux/Java tools rather than “joining the Dark Side”? Not really. The truth of the matter is that our clients are diverse. Sometimes a Java solution is what they want, either because of legacy issues, or because their application has a particular need that warrants something other than a Microsoft solution. In striking a balance between Microsoft technologies and non-Microsoft technologies, SRT Solutions can choose the right programming language for the client based on business needs rather than shoe-horning every problem into a Microsoft-based solution.

Also, it’s good for someone to remain Unix/Linux-literate, since we do have clients that are multiplatform. And if you look deeper, you will notice that at the core of every decision that we make in staying on top of technologies, Bill, Josh, and I are more alike than different.

Of course, it IS fun to tweak Josh and Bill every once in a while.