FYB's Lament: the future of programming

This is a discussion on FYB's Lament: the future of programming within the General Discussions forums, part of the Community Boards category; Its been a while since I've been on cboard. Some of you may remember me. I spent a fair amount ...

  1. #1
    pronounced 'fib' FillYourBrain's Avatar
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    FYB's Lament: the future of programming

    Its been a while since I've been on cboard. Some of you may remember me. I spent a fair amount of effort in the C++ area. C++ has always been my language of choice (with a slight desire to do Java occasionally) but the world is changing, much to my chagrin.

    My current job would have been primarily java if their needs hadn't changed. To my surprise, all of a sudden I'm a web programmer. I'm being bombarded with opinions that the desktop application is dead and people are favoring web applications today. Looking around, watching Google do its thing, I'm frightened by the possibility that this opinion is in fact true.

    This is not what I want to do for the rest of my career. Now, I'm not the type to shun new technology. "Back in my day...". No! That's not what I'm saying at all. Its just that the job itself is not to my liking. I don't find it as "fun". If the desktop application is truly dead or dying, there may no longer be any room for me. I'll go the way of the COBOL programmer and disappear. But it is my hope that I've at least got a few good years left of writing real code. But I'm pessimistic.
    "You are stupid! You are stupid! Oh, and don't forget, you are STUPID!" - Dexter

  2. #2
    Super Moderator VirtualAce's Avatar
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    Often times when you are in one sector of the industry that is the only sector you see. Thus everything you witness at home and abroad is run through that 'filter' and everything seems to revolve around it when in fact it doesn't.

    It is sort of like having a pet peeve about something. If you let it get to you eventually everything in the world will revolve around that pet peeve when 99% of what occurs has nothing to do with your pet peeve.

    I would say it might be time to branch out or perhaps start investing some time in a project at home that has nothing to do with the web. Looking at the programming world in my eyes yields a far different picture than what you have painted. Web programming is the furthest thing from what I do and concentrate on each day and the company I work for is not a web-based company.

    Thankfully life is full of variety and you can experience it by surrounding yourself with people from all walks and occupational 'fields' of life'. It is too easy to get wrapped up in one and then start to think the whole world revolves around that one field or point of view.

  3. #3
    pronounced 'fib' FillYourBrain's Avatar
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    thanks for the feedback. You know its not just the web thing either though. C++ has had a major nail driven into its coffin with the way Microsoft handled .NET.

    The only post win32 windows option for C++ isnt in fact C++.

    a lot of things have happened that suck. that's all.
    "You are stupid! You are stupid! Oh, and don't forget, you are STUPID!" - Dexter

  4. #4
    Super Moderator VirtualAce's Avatar
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    Eh. I work with C++, C++/CLI and C# almost everyday and they all have their place. I think the exclusionist crowd is starting to die down a bit and realize that each language has its place.
    C# may help you avoid the old C++ pitfalls but it also introduces a slew of its own new pitfalls. I love all 3 languages and would be fine with a job doing any of them. Is C++ better than C#? In certain areas and for certain tasks it certainly is. Is C# better than C++. In certain areas and for certain tasks it certainly is. Again I believe C++, C++/CLI, and C# will be alive for quite some time in the future. Microsoft actually did a very good job with C# and C++/CLI (once you get used to it).

    Be encouraged though that the whole world of software engineering doesn't revolve around 1 or 2 things but is composed of many thousands of different areas of interest. Unfortunately we often get caught up in company mantra's and mission statements and cultures that steer us in one direction or the other and we tend to forget about the other areas that are still alive and kicking.

  5. #5
    (?<!re)tired Mario F.'s Avatar
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    Welcome back, Fill. Been a while indeed.

    I'll echo Bubba's and add the following:

    The "web apps is going to kill the desktop" argument is of course only supported by those who develop for the web exclusively or almost exclusively. That alone should tell you something. It's nothing you haven't heard already: "mobile devices will deprecate the pc", "the web will kill the television", "netbooks will obsolete notebooks", "wind turbines will replace coal", ad nausea

    But things are more or less like this:

    - Software still needs to be built to support upstream and downstream web apps.

    - As long as we support our entire net experience in a fundamentally insecure 40 years old set of communications protocols and backed by a extremely slow (by several magnitudes) communications physical infrastructure, user applications will keep thriving in all areas of development and client-server architectures will keep being built to support everything (from businesses, to entire governments and even users at home).

    What we are experiencing is a boom of web development backed by technological developments in that area (notably programming languages and devices) that give the false impression of substitution. But in fact, the immense interest exists only because before there was nothing and that void is now being filled at the speed of light. And that's all there is to it.

    As for your predicament, twice in my career I experienced a similar problem. Slowly, or fast, you cannot really tell, you got sucked into web development. And when you realized it, you were doing nothing else and not really enjoying the experience. What I did on my case was put an end to it by switching jobs when I realize I wasn't allowed to go back. I did appreciate the experience though, because today I do have marginal knowledge in web development and that goes into the resume also. But my advice is that; try to sort it out with them. If you can't, start looking for a job and when you find it, quit.
    Last edited by Mario F.; 08-31-2010 at 11:22 PM.
    The programmer’s wife tells him: “Run to the store and pick up a loaf of bread. If they have eggs, get a dozen.”
    The programmer comes home with 12 loaves of bread.


    Originally Posted by brewbuck:
    Reimplementing a large system in another language to get a 25% performance boost is nonsense. It would be cheaper to just get a computer which is 25% faster.

  6. #6
    the hat of redundancy hat nvoigt's Avatar
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    >people are favoring web applications today

    Take a look at the latest hype: IPhone. It's able to display web applications and native "Apps". How many web applications and how many native apps do you have installed? I'm counting 2 web applications and 18 native apps on mine. I don't even want web applications, I'm not on a flatrate internet access with my phone provider, I want my software downloaded once and used offline. The "desktop" hardware may change, from C64 to PC to MAC to GamingConsole or to Smartphone. But native programming will always stay. There will always be at least one native application, at least until they invent the browser-over-internet. Just as likely as wireless power cords.
    hth
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  7. #7
    &TH of undefined behavior Fordy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FillYourBrain View Post
    Its been a while since I've been on cboard.
    Hello!

    I guess having to fundamentally change what you do is probably more a feature of the IT industry than it is in most others. I can certainly remember DOS Game programmers grumbling about the change to DirectX (etc...) and I guess it was the same when programmers first had to come to terms with the first windowing systems.

    I've found myself doing more web-programming, but as I do what I do freelance and not as my main income I can choose the technology I use and how I do it.

    As to .NET, I like it. Those that know me know that I used to mess about with WinApi quite a bit. I recently had to rewrite a Java desktop app that pulls lots of data from numerous sources (CSV, Excel, MySQL, a nasty read only ODBC connection to an accounts app....), calculate chargeable items, create invoices and distribute them. I toyed with the idea of using C++ again but after some planning gave up as a lot of the pitfalls were too annoying to get around - restrictions on the database drivers I could use, 3 different types of string class, 2 different types of date class, lots of COM headaches...etc. So now I'm doing it in C# and its coming along fine. NET is fine with me as its has the current support to allow you what you need to do without a lot of the headaches.


    Quote Originally Posted by FillYourBrain View Post
    My current job would have been primarily java if their needs hadn't changed. To my surprise, all of a sudden I'm a web programmer. I'm being bombarded with opinions that the desktop application is dead and people are favoring web applications today. Looking around, watching Google do its thing, I'm frightened by the possibility that this opinion is in fact true.
    I think they still have a way to go until we all have just web-apps in use.

  8. #8
    pronounced 'fib' FillYourBrain's Avatar
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    Bubba, you like C++/CLI huh? The way it seems to me is that Microsoft created that to pacify those of us who wanted to continue using C++ but its not necessary. I have always imagined that they would gradually fade it away in favor of C#. That's their right I suppose as it is their development environment on their operating system. And I'm not saying C# is bad. I actually like it. I just don't like that it means an end to a lot of C++ development on Windows.
    "You are stupid! You are stupid! Oh, and don't forget, you are STUPID!" - Dexter

  9. #9
    pronounced 'fib' FillYourBrain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mario F. View Post
    ...twice in my career I experienced a similar problem. Slowly, or fast, you cannot really tell, you got sucked into web development. And when you realized it, you were doing nothing else and not really enjoying the experience. What I did on my case was put an end to it by switching jobs when I realize I wasn't allowed to go back....
    See, my experience is not unique to me. This is more and more common. And while it may not be legitimate to say that the desktop app is dead, it is certainly important to recognize that web apps are replacing a certain percentage of them. This changes the size of our job market wouldn't you say?
    "You are stupid! You are stupid! Oh, and don't forget, you are STUPID!" - Dexter

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    What exactly is it that you're not liking about the kind of programming you're doing? Is it just that you would rather use the C++ language, or is it something else?

    I felt much the same way a while ago, but I realized that what I enjoyed so much about programming in C was more of a 'style'. I liked knowing how higher-level constructs worked under the surface (like knowing the basics of how an OS worked). I liked knowing how my own language would be implemented in machine code. I liked dealing with memory management, trying to optimize, etc... I got a job essentially building web applications in Java and Adobe Flex, and started to feel like I wasn't doing what I loved. Once I recognized exactly what it was that I missed, I applied to my job and became much happier. I started looking at the C++ code for the ActionScript Virtual Machine used in Flash/Flex, and I trained my colleagues on how memory management, garbage collection, data binding and events were working under the surface. I was able to help solve a lot of problems that had previously been written off as a consequence of using such a high-level language. I helped make better web apps, but really I was reading C++ and applying similar skils. In my freelance work I started learning about the underlying implementation of PHP, and started enjoying optimizing PHP code that needed to be faster. I really enjoy working on web apps, because I found ways to contribute by looking under the hood.

    So as others have pointed out, the need for your skills isn't going to disappear. Even if web apps take over the world, there will be tons of development in client/server software to run those apps faster, better, easier (funny you mention Google - because I think they're the prime example of creating innovative web apps with some hardcore engineering going on behind the scenes). There will always be times when the new systems fail, and older technologies have to be used to bring them back online. Yes, it will happen less and less over time, but you might not need to change jobs if you can find another way to do what you love doing.

  11. #11
    Super Moderator VirtualAce's Avatar
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    Bubba, you like C++/CLI huh? The way it seems to me is that Microsoft created that to pacify those of us who wanted to continue using C++ but its not necessary.
    C++/CLI serves a far greater purpose than that.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by FillYourBrain View Post
    I'll go the way of the COBOL programmer and disappear.
    They're still alive and kicking. Hell, I program in MUMPS which is older than COBOL, and that's actually a relatively high-demand language in certain sectors (e.g. healthcare).
    You ever try a pink golf ball, Wally? Why, the wind shear on a pink ball alone can take the head clean off a 90 pound midget at 300 yards.

  13. #13
    That weird Java guy xniinja's Avatar
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    how about adobe. There are still very much doing their thing.

  14. #14
    pronounced 'fib' FillYourBrain's Avatar
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    the message I'm getting here is that I'm being dramatic. Yeah I know. Its easy for that to happen when things seem to take a turn for the worst in your job. I do hope to get back to C++ before long though.
    "You are stupid! You are stupid! Oh, and don't forget, you are STUPID!" - Dexter

  15. #15
    pronounced 'fib' FillYourBrain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bubba View Post
    C++/CLI serves a far greater purpose than that.
    I would love to understand this comment better. Not being sarcastic or anything. What do you mean?
    "You are stupid! You are stupid! Oh, and don't forget, you are STUPID!" - Dexter

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