Monday, July 11, 2005

A.K. Has Little Patience...

... with colleagues apparently not at his level of knowledge.

My experience is: while people lacking some qualification might indeed be dreadful to software projects, even worse are the folks who think they know and make their seniors (who are most likely even more clueless) believe so too, hence are then put in charge of things they should better leave their hands off.

I once was shown some old Java code originating from a guy who used to be the organizations' only person with little above zero Java/XML/HTTP-knowledge. He managed to make that Java system Unicode-inapt (now that's a real accomplishment on a platform that is Unicode-able per definition), wrote his own, broken XML-parser/-transformer which produced whatever format but not XML (ignoring the fact that JAXP has been part of the JDK since version 1.3 - the poor maintenance programmes suffered for years to come, as they could not use real XML on the other side of the pipe either), and even implemented his own HTTP on top of TCP sockets (or what would be a poor man's HTTP: writing "GET [someurl]" to a socket stream and reading the response), just because he didn't know how to send HTTP headers using Java's HTTP API (of course a complete HTTP implementation is part of every Java version since 1995). Back then he was the proclaimed Java expert on that very group (as everyone else there was coding VB or whatever), hence was given plenty of rope, and consequently screwed up.

I prefer coworkers who admit they don't know too much about a certain technology, but are willing to learn and to listen. Give them easy tasks at first, support them, and let them grow step by step. Programming is no rocket science, and no brain surgery either. Heck there are so many things even inside my area of expertise that I don't know much of. But I know that I don't know, and I know whom to ask or how to learn when required.

But if A.K.'s colleague is an idiot and not willing to change something about it, I offer my condolences.