Software developers come in two types – those that can get it done and those that like to talk about methodology.

In 1979, after a few months at United Airlines Maintenance Operation Center (MOC) in San Francisco, I became friends with Sammy, one of my Univac co-workers who took me under his wing to explain the design flaws of Exec1100, the operating system that kept the maintenance systems of United’s fleet running.   Sammy waxed eloquently about software methodologies, and I have to say he had me as a true believer during my early tenure. That is, until the day I realized something about Sammy.

The realization was that Sammy couldn’t code his way out of a paper bag.  Every time we had to work out a nasty problem, he would stop and begin a dissertation on the “bigger picture”.  “The development center,” he would begin, “needed to rethink its project management and design methodologies  blah blah blah…”.   He was very good at this speech and had a great sense of humor as well.  He entertained.  And an hour later he would go to lunch, problem unsolved.

Ever since, my doofus-radar goes nuts whenever I hear people talk about methodologies.  Just mention Agile, Waterfall or Spiral, and I’m taking bets that you can’t convert ebcdic to ASCII.

So I got my core beliefs challenged when one of the coders here at TempWorks forwarded me a link recommended by Microsoft’s Scott Hanselman on the “Principles of …Shipping Software”.   Scott is the go-to guy for anyone involved in Microsoft technologies.  He’s not just a real coder, he’s the guy real coders go to when they need help.  So what was this methodology series Scott recommended?

Ivo Manolov iterates through a set of design principles.  His thoughts individually are hard to attack and follow in the footsteps of many such fine methodology write-ups of the past.  His supporting arguments apply really well to the specific projects like Windows XP that he’s worked on in the past.  I’m sure he scores some rah-rah points with the developers that labored through XP release cycle.

But that’s just the problem.  Not all projects are Windows XP releases, and the further you get from releases of that type, the less relevance his methodology principles.  In fact, his final post title, “[..] Principles of Shipping Software” has no relevance to anything any more as no one “ships” software.  They push it out with constant updates (which is what this XP machine here at this lake resort in Spooner, WI wants me to take note of).

So go ahead,  read about methodologies.  Study them.  Enjoy a beer, and hey go fishing while you do.   That’s where I’m headed.

Tags: Staffing Software