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Bad Analogy Time: Alt.NET Ex-Drinkers

Everything is analogous to everything else, just as everything is different from everything else.  So, what I'm going to do is create an analogy, an admittedly bad analogy, to explain something I think about Alt.NET.

Have you ever known anyone who has quit drinking (or smoking or eating fast food, etc.) and has 'gotten religion' about it?  To the point that they point to every use of alcohol as abuse?  Alt.NET people tend to be like that.

Okay, bad analogy created.  Explanation please.

As far as it has a definition, Alt. NET is about attempting to improve software development, usually by taking an 'Agile' approach, e.g., using Test Driven Development, sprints, etc.  And all that is well and good, to the extent that it actually does improve software development (for the most part, in more situations than not,I think it does).

And as part of trying to improve software development, it follows that you will tend to discuss development practices that you think are not so good.  And this is fine as well.

To build the bad analogy, suppose someone decides that they need to quit drinking, for whatever reason (it's impacting their life negatively, it's causing health issues, they just sold their first-born for Scotch, whatever).  In and of itself, this is a good thing.

But for some, it's not just enough that they stop drinking.  No, every use of alcohol by other people becomes a symptom of the other's problems.  Everyone is an alcoholic because they are (or something like that).

Some of the Alt.NET community are that guy.  It's not just enough that they stopped using designers or wizards or, god forbid, UML (or whatever), everyone else must stop as well to be a good developer.  If you don't, you are stupid, a Mort, or, god forbid, an architect.  The level of contempt and disdain can be overwhelming.

Now, there is nothing wrong with quitting drinking.  In almost all instances, it is a good thing.  But there isn't anything inherently wrong with drinking itself.  In fact, it is good for you, when done in moderation (which is usually the problem, of course....if one glass of wine with dinner is good for you, surely twelve must be that much better).

Similarly, it is okay to use a Visual Studio designer.  It is even okay to use drag and drop.  There, I said it.  Let me say it again, with feeling: IT IS OKAY TO USE DRAG AND DROP.  In moderation.  When it is appropriate.

Did you get nauseous when I said that?  You might be that guy.

Now, keep in mind, I actually agree with much (most?) of what is categorized as Alt.NET.  And I find that well-written contempt can be really damn funny.  And reading blogs is a *great* way to learn.

But the lack of, for lack of a better word, 'perspective' in thinking that you *have* to use MVP everywhere (to make up an example) is just silly.  More than silly.  It's bad for you.  Bad for business which is the greater sin. 

Some people have wondered what it will take for Alt.NET to be just .NET and not 'Alt.'  Losing the attitude and gaining perspective would go a long way.

Time for a drink.

posted on Sunday, October 07, 2007 2:04 PM Print
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# re: Bad Analogy Time: Alt.NET Ex-Drinkers
Ryan
10/8/2007 8:01 AM
For reference, I didn't *stop* using designers and wizards - I never used them in the first place. Also, not all designers are bad - I use the WinForms designer.

Just for grins, let's take the analogy further. Designers aren't alcohol, they're crack. When people who don't smoke crack look down on people who do, they're right.
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# re: Bad Analogy Time: Alt.NET Ex-Drinkers
And one more thing...
10/8/2007 8:12 AM
...bacon should be square, not round!
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# re: Bad Analogy Time: Alt.NET Ex-Drinkers
jl
10/8/2007 8:20 AM
On the other hand, I've seen the same exact argument used by people as a reason to never learn about alt.net values and continue producing poorly tested maintenance nightmares.

Occasionally, the guy pitching the alt.net is pompous blow hards argument can make a rational decision about the trade-offs between testability and RAD. More often than not though its the addicted wrecking their team with a WYSIWYG tool of destruction and scoffing at TDD as purist and not pragmatic.

alt.net != round bacon.









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# re: Bad Analogy Time: Alt.NET Ex-Drinkers
Raymond Lewallen
10/8/2007 8:51 AM
"... far as it has a definition, Alt. NET is about attempting to improve software development, usually by taking an 'Agile' approach, e.g., using Test Driven Development, sprints, etc."

I quit reading here, because you don't understand Alt.Net if you are equating it to agile.

Ok, I read this too:

"Some of the Alt.NET community are that guy. It's not just enough that they stopped using designers or wizards or, god forbid, UML"

Yeah, so many of you out there don't bother to learn what Alt.net is about and criticize what you refuse to take time to understand.
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# re: Bad Analogy Time: Alt.NET Ex-Drinkers
jdn
10/8/2007 9:34 AM
@Raymond

I'm not sure how you got from the sentence I wrote to 'equating' Alt.Net to agile, since I didn't.

Having said that, I'm surprised that you would object to correlating the two. Just about every vocal advocate on the subject does talk about using agile practices as part of it. Or at least the ones I read.

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# re: Bad Analogy Time: Alt.NET Ex-Drinkers
jdn
10/8/2007 9:59 AM
@jl

It isn't a strict either/or. Though I've talked about maintenance before and think that's in many ways a red herring, it isn't a choice between either TDD/alt.NET or maintenance nightmares.

I do like the "WYSIWYG tool of destruction" comment. I need to get me one of them. Oh, right. Visual Studio 2003.
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# re: Bad Analogy Time: Alt.NET Ex-Drinkers
jl
10/8/2007 2:26 PM
That true, it is not a choice between alt.net and doom. Rather, most frequently the people I see being the most vocal critics of alt.net are the same ones who are also regularly painting themselves into corners with techniques and technologies of their choosing.

This would be the same type of person who runs head long into LINQ to SQL because its Microsoft without ever stopping to consider NHibernate because its open. Usually this line of reasoning is followed up shortly by "Well MS will eventually kill it off."






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# re: Bad Analogy Time: Alt.NET Ex-Drinkers
jdn
10/8/2007 3:14 PM
@jl

I'm sure there are people who might be like that (just as I'm sure there are people who will leap at something just because it is open-source and/or because Ayende blogs about it...and what's the over/under on the amount of time till someone attacks the new MVC framework as being merely a Monorail killer....but I have digressed too much), but so what?

Fragilists don't really do much to help promote agile methodologies (and BTW, Yegge was right), and so I don't think carrying that attitude over will ultimately be helpful.
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# re: Bad Analogy Time: Alt.NET Ex-Drinkers
jl
10/9/2007 8:15 AM
I suppose the point here is that in both cases we are generalizing from a viewpoint's weakest proponents. For each case where you find the recently converted agile addict, you can find the ignorant agile detractor as well.

Would it help to get rid of all the proselytizing from the agile camp? Maybe, but once you've sampled enough to see if there is something there for or you or not most of that discussion is simply noise between the entrenched. There is still a lot of good discussion with meat. So, there is agile the shouting match and agile the practice and the former gets far too much air time.
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# re: Bad Analogy Time: Alt.NET Ex-Drinkers
jdn
10/9/2007 10:44 AM
@jl

Well, shouting matches are more 'entertaining' if you are into that sort of thing, but I agree with the sentiment.

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