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Danger! Software Craftsmen at Work



David Harvey is concerned that some of the craftsmanship discourse can end up creating a barrier between the software builders and their customers, suggesting that the current Software Craftsmanship movement is a distraction, even a danger.


David Harvey has over 20 years experience in designing, building and managing software development. Now he is working as an agile coach and consultant in some of Europe's largest companies. He has helped companies adopting C++ and OOP, and has spoken on patters, distributed computing, software architecture and practice at various conferences, being chair for OT99 and SPA2009.

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Recorded at:

Oct 12, 2010

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Community comments

  • Danger ! Manifesto misinterpretation ahead

    by Guillaume L,

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    If I understood it well, David states that the Software Craftsmanship Manifesto is too tame to be called a manifesto while McBreen's book is a proper manifesto but too extreme to be followed. Should we deduce that whatever it is they're about, manifestos are useless ?

    I think the presentation completely misses the main point that triggered the creation of the SCM in the first place, which is the need for recognition of software development as a profession.

    Since computers exist we have seen various organizations being formed by IT people and the IT industry in general, but not really a wide-scale joint effort of programmers as a self-proclaimed community. Yet when you think of it, it's high time that we get a little more considered by "the outside world". We're often regarded as obscure fifth wheels, silent executants, and sometimes even deprived of outside recognition that we know how to do our job and that this job requires a certain skill.

    As with any movement whose goal is to assert an identity (civil rights movements and teenage are examples), before acknowledgement comes, before pride comes, the first step is a self-defense reflex. It's about rebelling and gathering forces to oppose the status quo. That's what the Craftsmanship movement is trying to do, to connect developers together around the formation of a craft, a set of practices widely recognized as state-of-the-art. To put forward the profession as one that requires great expertise and not just typing skills, and its members as people who constantly seek improvement and don't just go through the same basic tasks and mistakes over and over.

    "Software Craftsmanship Manifesto: A Call to Arms" was the title of an article that appeared here on InfoQ shortly after the manifesto was released. And this is for a reason. The paper captured precisely what for me was the original spirit of the SCM initiative. You don't "call people to arms" just for the pleasure of showing how crazy developers are and how much they like to oppose to other professions. It's a necessary struggle on the path towards recognition.

  • Re: Danger ! Manifesto misinterpretation ahead

    by Andy Dent,

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    @Guillaume Sorry, I have to disagree with your assertion. Professional bodies for software developers have been around for decades earlier than the SCM movement. I'm a senior member of the Australian Computer Society which as a society has been member of the Australian Council of Professions for several years. You should also look into the history of ACM.

    I also think it's ironic that you talk about "IT people and the IT industry" because, increasingly, I see them as being independent of what software development is about. The vast majority of IT people and IT projects are about installation, management and configuration of software. They have little to do with development. Speaking from a 25+ year perspective, which has been spent doing mostly software development (I was a sysadmin in the eighties), I'm concerned about a growing LOSS of professionalism. I think the SCM movement is not so much a "finally we're getting professional" as an attempt to regain those attitudes and I think it's very significant that many of the people driving it are my peers.

    I remember when "design at the keyboard" was a slur. Nowadays it almost seems to be praise - someone who actually does design.

    (yes I know that's a gross exaggeration and I hope it remains as such)

  • Re: Danger ! Manifesto misinterpretation ahead

    by Javier Diaz,

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    @Andy sorry, but you are from another generation and the land down under, where prostitution is legal (sorry for the clichés). Here, on the other side, the world is pretty much as Guillaume describes (actually it is much worse ...). Just substitute Sw Engineering by commercial or enterprise development and things start to fit into shape. The fact that Sw Engineering got co-opted by enterprisey snake oil in the late eighties should be enough for a senior like you to realize what this is all about (as you probably neither have any methodology book hidden anywhere). I was fed faux methodology by the educational machinery, I was informed by the commercial world that we are a commodity ... In my country ACM is a magazine subscription service, nothing more. My degree is worth zilch, unions recognize me as a "Metal" worker and the professional categories of sw are from the 60s at the latest. I live in Europe, by the way ...

    Mixing this with whether you use paper, a blackboard or an IDE to develop your thoughts has ZERO to do with it: just accept that TIMTOWTDI. Just speaking from the perspective of someone who started using computers in his infancy (about 30+ years ago).

    I hope that you also see this as a gross exageration ...

  • Answers in Blogs

    by Gael Fraiteur,

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    I commented on this talk on my blog at

    Robert Martin answered on

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