Warm Turkey

July 22th 2010 | Jimmy Bosse

Warm Turkey

In a recent post, “Cold Turkey”, my colleague Kevin Jones challenged developers to “try writing code for a day, even an hour, using notepad. Not Notepad2 or notepad++. Though you can cheat and use MSBuild to compile your solution. It might just change your idea of what good code is.”

I say poppycock!

Imagine being a patient about to go into surgery when your doctor explains that he will be removing your appendix without anesthesia or a scalpel. Instead, he’ll be getting back to his roots and will be using a knife and some leeches to demonstrate what good surgery is. Utter nonsense.

Tools like IntelliSense do not write good or bad code—they are used by good or bad developers. Should I be aware of the methods of the System.IO.File class? Absolutely. Should I be able to recall each of its 56 methods on demand? Absolutely not. Can I tell you the parameter types of each of the three overloaded signatures for its Open method? Nope again. Knowing this information by rote does not make me a better developer. It’s also a waste of my time, and to our clients (if you are a consultant like many of us developers) time is money.

Tools like IntelliSense are about efficiency, and to argue that it rots the brain is to argue that we should launch the space shuttle on the minds of brilliant engineers who insist on using the abacus.

Tools help good programmers deliver good software faster. I couldn’t write a post about essential tools without discussing ReSharper. I have on more than one occasion stated that, “I will never use Visual Studio again without ReSharper, ever.” I stand by that statement. I even saw a recent tweet by someone stating that they could do more coding with one hand and ReSharper than with two hands without it.

True, if you’re a bad developer, the tools are going to make you better—at writing bad code. There’s not much I can do about that.

Jimmy Bosse is a Team Lead at Thycotic Software, an agile software services and product development company based in Washington DC. Secret Server is our flagship password management software product. On Twitter? Follow Jimmy

  1. Kevin J.
    August 2, 2010 at 8:52 pm

    I think you misunderstood what my article was saying, Jimmy. I didn’t say tools are *bad*. I never said we shouldn’t use them permanently, I said not using them for a brief period of time is a sobering experience and help us understand what our tools are actually doing for us. I agree, not using tools at all is a huge productivity loss, but not knowing *why* you are using your tools is also a productivity loss.

    There is the old saying, “You don’t know what you have till it’s gone”. That is the principle I am trying to apply. Appreciate your tools and understand why you use them!

  2. Jonathan Cogley
    December 23, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    Maybe the analogy would be better if you were dying on a desert island from a nasty wound and all the doctor had was a knife and some leeches … could he get you to pull through? 🙂

  1. July 23, 2010 at 12:39 pm

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