When You’ve Got A Hammer…

By on February 28, 2005

David Heinemeier Hansson (of Rails) fame put an interesting post up on his blog the other day regarding Rails as a ‘disruptive technology’, but I think that his point also applies to a lot of other “fringe” development frameworks as well.

The industry is being massively over-served by J2EE/.NET in the majority of projects. The backlash against EJBs and other Titanic-type technologies demonstrates this well. And I see a hope in the increased collective awareness that maybe not all projects need the tools targeted at the very most complex ones. And not only don’t need, but are damaged by.

It’s an interesting way to look at it. Most development shops are using either .NET or Java, because both can take care of even the most complex business problems, and are, in fact, geared towards making the difficult problems easier to solve.

And if you’ve got a difficult problem to solve, that’s great. But the fact is that most of the day-to-day problems a programmer solves aren’t that difficult. We could probably be more productive with a simpler tool, but we use the complex tools, because that’s what we use for everything else, right?

I think IT in general would be more productive if we branched out a little more with the solutions we used, and spent less time making sure that everything was done using the system that’s been “blessed” in a particular organization.



  1. While I agree with this in principle, here’s the problem in practice —

    Small problems have a tendency to become big solutions. You start on some app that’s supposed to stay nice and contained, then feature creep sets in, and people start adding to it and using it in new ways. And I’m not talking about the bad feature creep that happens during design — I’m talking about the good feature creep that results from people using the app, loving it, and getting excited at the possibilities it opens.

    Then, suddenly, you have a big app on your hands and someone wants to integrate it with the uber-platform and someone else pipes in with “Well, why wasn’t this designed to work on the uber-platform in the first place…”

    I’ve seen it happen. So have you, Joe.

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