Last night I shared the article Why we don’t hire .NET programmers by David Barrett on Twitter. Some of the responses I got said the article was
- A load of rubbish
- Amazingly successful trolling
- So narrow minded it hurts
The article contains some provocative criticisms of Microsoft’s tool stack. But it also has high praise for the same tools.
Here’s what I believe the article is saying at its core:
The Microsoft tool stack is not optimized for the kind of development we want to do, so we doubt that people who have chosen to make a career using that tool stack will be a good fit for us.
I’ll let David Barrett decide who is or is not a good fit for his company, but this much seems undeniable: Microsoft’s tools are optimized for a certain market. All tools are optimized for some market, at least tools that are successful. I would take Microsoft’s enormous financial success as evidence that their tools are indeed optimized for some market, and a large market at that. The article says
[.NET is] the most modern platform for application development on the planet. Microsoft has always produced the best tools for building internal business applications, and .NET is their masterpiece. There’s a reason why they own that space; they earned it. That space employs millions of people, and those people are unquestionably the masters at what they do.
That’s quite an endorsement. Microsoft should quote that in their marketing literature.
I assume .NET developers don’t take offense to what Barrett says .NET does well but rather what he thinks it does poorly.
Barrett’s main criticism of .NET is that it makes it easier to solve common problems at the expense of making it harder to solve uncommon problems. And that seems clear. He makes his point in an inflammatory way — implying that Microsoft wants to entrap developers, and that .NET developers are happy to let Microsoft think for them — but I agree that Microsoft has designed its tools for developers working on common problems. They’ve aimed at the profitable heart of the developer market.
I don’t agree with Barrett’s argument that start-ups are necessarily working on unusual problems that are not well served by Microsoft tools. A start-up may have a unique product or service and yet have mainstream software needs. For example, suppose you develop a kit that lets people run their car on oatmeal. A web site for selling your kits might not be very different from a web site selling T-shirts.