Having worked in the software industry for the best part of the past 15
years, I have developed a sense about fellow software developers. My
observations are obviously anecdotal and are not backed by empirical
evidence, but so is my claim to a scientific break-through in the field
of software development humanities.
So it was the case that C and C++ developers were obsessed about the
amount of memory used by their code. Assembly coders would lose sleep
over CPU cycles and the number of instructions and Java developers could
spend a good part of their professional life over how to split their
modules and manage their dependencies. Delphi developers were the ones
always telling us how Delphi was the first to do everything. C#
developers always came from another programming language that was better
in many ways than C# but just wasn’t paying enough and Visual Basic
developers just wanted to get the job done as if there was no tomorrow
(and in most cases there wasn’t).
I am a Generation X and have mostly worked with other Gen X developers
throughout of my career. We love our cliques and niche interests and
this shows in the programming languages of our generation. We made many
different programming languages that couldn’t talk to each other, share
libraries and were difficult to learn. Our standards were not really
standards: When the web was everywhere we made web service standards
that had many different patrons and even more extensions, additions and
reviews and were never adopted widely or played nicely with others. Deep
down we knew nothing is done right unless we do it ourselves.
I now work with Millennial developers. Us Gen X folk were told off by
our parents for wasting so much time in front of our computers, but
Millennials manage to make web social so their parents waste even more
time in front of their tablets poking each other.
The Millennial developers use a different breed of programming
languages: They use programming languages that are social, about sharing
and (mostly) cannot do things that are not standard. We spent our time
protecting our code, they share it on Github. We made proprietary
protocols for everything, they use REST and move on. We couldn’t reuse
our own code after a while, they build gems for others to use without
What has changed?\
It seems to me that the social and sharing nature of the Millennials has
crept in to the programming frameworks they use. Rails, Django, git and
Github, Node.js and almost any new programming framework that the
Millennials make, have inherent sharing capabilities baked into them.
And that’s how they’ve managed to constantly add value to one another’s
work and make the world a better place. We have tried to copy this into
our old programming tools but it’s just not the same. Take NuGet and
.NET for example. It’s a not-always-working-add-on at best.
It is true that our generation made computers personal. We made
programming languages friendly and computers less scary. But as
generations go, we have to admit that the Millennials have truly taken
it to the next level and managed to successfully mix computers and human
beings into each other, even at the code level.
So Kudos and thank you Millennials!