Professional misunderstanding in Development

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#1 astonecipher  Icon User is offline

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Professional misunderstanding in Development

Posted 23 January 2014 - 09:07 AM

I have an interview for a web development position in a few days. As the general precursor I was told to research the company and given the corporate website to learn what I could, as a starting point. I don't know if is just me, but I generally review page sources to see how it was written when doing this.

Anyway, the page is done in 'HTML5', but I noticed several tags were misused or neglected when they would be the obvious choice; The pages are missing code separation of JS, CSS, and HTML; Page layouts by using tables; That sort of thing.

Has anyone else run across this? I know well enough not to bring it up unless specifically asked. I am just wondering how many 'professional' development companies are not following best practices? It being HTML5 I would guess it is not a legacy page that was just ported to a newer version.

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#2 modi123_1  Icon User is offline

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Re: Professional misunderstanding in Development

Posted 23 January 2014 - 09:11 AM

Yes.. this happens quite a bit... it maybe the devs are sluggish, the company has cruft encased paths of "how things are done", or the page was not entirely re-written on its last update..
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#3 no2pencil  Icon User is online

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Re: Professional misunderstanding in Development

Posted 23 January 2014 - 09:22 AM

Are you familiar with the phrase : Plumbers have leaky pipes?

It's actually quite possible that this company, all-be-it a software development company, did not code their own site. It could be something that they paid for, & rather than taking developers off a project that creates income or revenue, they continue to use it. There is also the possibility that they hired an outside company to provide seo evaluation &/or content, & are using the bi-product of that.

In business there are items that make the company money, & then there are items that bring in clients.

View Postastonecipher, on 23 January 2014 - 11:07 AM, said:

I know well enough not to bring it up unless specifically asked.


A word of advice, don't go into your interview trying to show off, & belittle their website. You're more likely to offend them then make any sort of a positive impression. I would keep this little bit of information to yourself, & only share it if the project lands on your desk.
Sorry, didn't remember reading that...
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#4 astonecipher  Icon User is offline

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Re: Professional misunderstanding in Development

Posted 23 January 2014 - 09:28 AM

From what you are saying, no2pencil, it follows that same adage as the best mechanic is the one with the car that doesn't run?
(It means he is to busy working on everyone else vehicle and doesn't have time to fix his.)

This post has been edited by astonecipher: 23 January 2014 - 09:28 AM

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#5 AfterBurner66  Icon User is offline

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Re: Professional misunderstanding in Development

Posted 23 January 2014 - 10:39 AM

I think that this is a practice taking place everyday across the globe. It's kind of some web professionals say "if this costs me less time and roughly works, then it's ok don't bother" or porting only some markup chunks into newer versions because "if it works now then ok" and the like. I have ran across these issues many times and if you ask the company to develop something better doing some upgrading and refactoring, many times they say to leave it as it is, because "it's working". I think that the keyword is time for companies and a perpetual fear of things tumbling down.
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#6 DarenR  Icon User is offline

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Re: Professional misunderstanding in Development

Posted 23 January 2014 - 10:47 AM

happens where i work all the time.

I hate table tags and dont use them but the seniors dont know any better so they rewrit emy code and always mess them up
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#7 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is offline

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Re: Professional misunderstanding in Development

Posted 23 January 2014 - 11:04 AM

View PostAfterBurner66, on 23 January 2014 - 12:39 PM, said:

I think that this is a practice taking place everyday across the globe. It's kind of some web professionals say "if this costs me less time and roughly works, then it's ok don't bother" or porting only some markup chunks into newer versions because "if it works now then ok" and the like. I have ran across these issues many times and if you ask the company to develop something better doing some upgrading and refactoring, many times they say to leave it as it is, because "it's working". I think that the keyword is time for companies and a perpetual fear of things tumbling down.



Actually, this attitude is more rational than you might think. Basically, the company pays a lot of money for developer time, and "good enough is good enough" is a natural reaction to a tendency towards perfectionism in developers. I don't think it's necessarily a good reaction, but from the company's point of view, you spending your time on "making it pretty inside" isn't a good use of their resources. Aversion to change is also reasonable, since any change in the code runs the risk of introducing bugs. If you open up the source to fix a "bug" that they don't care about, you have a nonzero chance of introducing a bug that they do in fact care about. So from their point of view, this is a loss.

In general, it's best to fix these things by a diligent application of the "campsite rule": "leave it cleaner than you found it". If you have to make a change in that area of the code, tidy things up while you're at it, and test the whole thing thoroughly when you're done. It's frustrating, yes, but if you think about it from your employer's point of view what matters to them is that they see better functionality every day. Prettier code, they don't care about, because it isn't making them money. Code that works makes them money.
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#8 tlhIn`toq  Icon User is offline

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Re: Professional misunderstanding in Development

Posted 23 January 2014 - 06:26 PM

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Basically, the company pays a lot of money for developer time,

Or doesn't. And these are the result you get when you hire people right out of college. But they are getting what they paid for.

Or using 3 people to do 9 people's workload. Again, you get what you're willing to pay for.

I'm a pain in the arse. I don't and won't rush. I've crossed a couple people more than once by saying "I don't care if its scheduled for 4 hours. Its going to take 12 to do it right." In the end it is my reputation, and my results that are on the line. At the end of the year I can say "Only 2% of my tickets had to be redone or had problems."

Plus, the bottom line cost of doing things over is HIGH HIGH HIGH. Every fix has to go back through the debug, QC and regression testing phases of the life cycle. That's 5 more people. Even if they are paid half my wages it's still 2.5 times the cost. Its cheaper to do it right the first time than keep doing it over.
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#9 depricated  Icon User is offline

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Re: Professional misunderstanding in Development

Posted 24 January 2014 - 04:37 AM

I had an interview a year and a half ago that I'll never forget. I was working on landing my first programming-focused job (which I did in that run of interviews) and came upon a company who was looking for an iOS Developer. Though I didn't have iOS experience, they were willing to meet with me because I was able to convince them over the phone that I knew my stuff well enough that I would be able to pick it up quickly.

So I do my research, and I discover some interesting bugs with their website. I threw together a very quick 5 minute presentation on the problem and how to fix it, in case they asked about my opinion on the site. They did.

Long story short, this was their rejection letter to the staffing agency that sent me over.

Quote

Hi Debbie,

I really liked [Depricated]. He had a great attitude, was better prepared for an interview than any other person I have ever met. Seriously I really mean that! He was great and showed a lot of professionalism! I was also impressed with the amount of passion he has for development and the stuff he has picked up with little guidance.



With that said, I do not think he is the best fit for us and I really don't think we are best for him either at least right now. I certainly think he would be a valuable addition to any team and that his talents have been vastly underutilized. He was a tremendous find for your company and I am certain he will do quite well!



As you learned with our first meeting, [Company] is a very small company and on the technical side at the moment I am the only resource. As I have considered our growth strategy, budget, and how [Depricated] might fit in, it has become more clear that what I really need is a mid to senior level person with skills very similar to mine. There is enough mix of both pure iOS and web development that I have to have someone who is immediately proficient at both. [Depricated] offered a lot on the web side but had no real experience with iOS. Ramp up time for that skill is at least a dedicated focus of 3 to 6 months just to be somewhat effective.



Regarding my comment about us not being the best fit for him... I am presently tremendously scattered trying to keep up with several concurrent mobile and web development initiatives as well as strategy and [Depricated]eting. I just don't have time to adequately mentor and train a junior resource until I add another full time senior resource. It is simply not fair to [Depricated] and will not help him grow as he should. Once we are that point, [Depricated] could be a great addition.



I really do wish him well! Please feel free to share this with him.



Thanks!

Jeremy


Kindest rejection I've ever received. I liked that company too, they had an awesome little environment I'd have loved to be in.

View PosttlhIn`toq, on 23 January 2014 - 06:26 PM, said:

Plus, the bottom line cost of doing things over is HIGH HIGH HIGH. Every fix has to go back through the debug, QC and regression testing phases of the life cycle. That's 5 more people. Even if they are paid half my wages it's still 2.5 times the cost. Its cheaper to do it right the first time than keep doing it over.

This is why I've sat on a defect for nearly a month before finally checking it in as fixed. Better to do it right the first time than let it linger in the background and come back later to be redone.
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#10 DarenR  Icon User is offline

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Re: Professional misunderstanding in Development

Posted 24 January 2014 - 06:39 AM

View Postdepricated, on 24 January 2014 - 06:37 AM, said:

I had an interview a year and a half ago that I'll never forget. I was working on landing my first programming-focused job (which I did in that run of interviews) and came upon a company who was looking for an iOS Developer. Though I didn't have iOS experience, they were willing to meet with me because I was able to convince them over the phone that I knew my stuff well enough that I would be able to pick it up quickly.

So I do my research, and I discover some interesting bugs with their website. I threw together a very quick 5 minute presentation on the problem and how to fix it, in case they asked about my opinion on the site. They did.

Long story short, this was their rejection letter to the staffing agency that sent me over.

Quote

Hi Debbie,

I really liked [Depricated]. He had a great attitude, was better prepared for an interview than any other person I have ever met. Seriously I really mean that! He was great and showed a lot of professionalism! I was also impressed with the amount of passion he has for development and the stuff he has picked up with little guidance.



With that said, I do not think he is the best fit for us and I really don't think we are best for him either at least right now. I certainly think he would be a valuable addition to any team and that his talents have been vastly underutilized. He was a tremendous find for your company and I am certain he will do quite well!



As you learned with our first meeting, [Company] is a very small company and on the technical side at the moment I am the only resource. As I have considered our growth strategy, budget, and how [Depricated] might fit in, it has become more clear that what I really need is a mid to senior level person with skills very similar to mine. There is enough mix of both pure iOS and web development that I have to have someone who is immediately proficient at both. [Depricated] offered a lot on the web side but had no real experience with iOS. Ramp up time for that skill is at least a dedicated focus of 3 to 6 months just to be somewhat effective.



Regarding my comment about us not being the best fit for him... I am presently tremendously scattered trying to keep up with several concurrent mobile and web development initiatives as well as strategy and [Depricated]eting. I just don't have time to adequately mentor and train a junior resource until I add another full time senior resource. It is simply not fair to [Depricated] and will not help him grow as he should. Once we are that point, [Depricated] could be a great addition.



I really do wish him well! Please feel free to share this with him.



Thanks!

Jeremy



sounds to me he was pissed you pointed out his mistakes and he felt threatened by your capabilities.

This post has been edited by DarenR: 24 January 2014 - 06:39 AM

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#11 AfterBurner66  Icon User is offline

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Re: Professional misunderstanding in Development

Posted 24 January 2014 - 11:02 AM

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Actually, this attitude is more rational than you might think. Basically, the company pays a lot of money for developer time, and "good enough is good enough" is a natural reaction to a tendency towards perfectionism in developers. I don't think it's necessarily a good reaction, but from the company's point of view, you spending your time on "making it pretty inside" isn't a good use of their resources. Aversion to change is also reasonable, since any change in the code runs the risk of introducing bugs. If you open up the source to fix a "bug" that they don't care about, you have a nonzero chance of introducing a bug that they do in fact care about. So from their point of view, this is a loss.

In general, it's best to fix these things by a diligent application of the "campsite rule": "leave it cleaner than you found it". If you have to make a change in that area of the code, tidy things up while you're at it, and test the whole thing thoroughly when you're done. It's frustrating, yes, but if you think about it from your employer's point of view what matters to them is that they see better functionality every day. Prettier code, they don't care about, because it isn't making them money. Code that works makes them money.


I agree that there is the other side of the coin, of what I said and yes it's more or less a developer perspective, but taking into account that more often than not, they who pay have nothing to do with programming or development, what they think saves them money, costs them lots more in the long run. Leaving something as it is, so to avoid extra costs, and making some darns because "it just works', usually ends up in higher costs for an inevitable debug and upgrade some day, that could have been avoided altogether. And taking into account that the people that get hired, did so with the "cost effective way" in mind and in the lowest possible number, then how can they stand such a challenge some day their boss asking for the moon.
I think that one good strategy of this kind, could be things get done in the right way right off the bat, and if in doubt as demands and trends change do the right things the right time. This is not only in benefit of the developer but of the employer or company too.

This post has been edited by AfterBurner66: 24 January 2014 - 11:03 AM

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#12 astonecipher  Icon User is offline

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Re: Professional misunderstanding in Development

Posted 24 January 2014 - 11:39 AM

I agree. There is a difference between good enough and it works. Developers understand that, but others think it is the same thing. I think it's funny how a company believes just doing it fast is cheaper than doing it right.
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#13 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is offline

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Re: Professional misunderstanding in Development

Posted 24 January 2014 - 04:09 PM

View Postastonecipher, on 24 January 2014 - 01:39 PM, said:

I agree. There is a difference between good enough and it works. Developers understand that, but others think it is the same thing.


Quote

I think it's funny how a company believes just doing it fast is cheaper than doing it right.


Oddly enough, the logic of the marketplace suggests that they're at least closer to the truth than the developer who thinks that doing it right is cheaper than doing it fast. Or rather, "more profitable" which is what matters for the companies, and since they're the ones paying for the work it would seem that they should at least have some input on the matter.

Obviously, there's a crossover point and we could find cases to support either view - at some point "good enough" isn't actually good enough, and at some point "making it right" is just polishing the spark plugs - but the point I was trying to get at above is that a developer who doesn't take into account the company's need to actually produce something sooner or later is probably not going to with a lot of arguments about whether a refactoring is needed. And for developers who aren't in the enviable position of getting to decide to ignore the existing schedule in favor of their own whims, winning arguments is the only alternative to perpetual frustration and bitching on the internet about how dumb their company is.

(in other words, this isn't about "doing it right doesn't matter", it's about "there are also other things that matter, and sometimes those things will get precedence")

Quote

I agree that there is the other side of the coin, of what I said and yes it's more or less a developer perspective, but taking into account that more often than not, they who pay have nothing to do with programming or development, what they think saves them money, costs them lots more in the long run. Leaving something as it is, so to avoid extra costs, and making some darns because "it just works', usually ends up in higher costs for an inevitable debug and upgrade some day, that could have been avoided altogether.


What you're missing here is that something that costs less isn't necessarily more profitable. Time matters. While a product is in development, it's a product that isn't making money, and depending on the nature of the product, it might have quite a short shelf life - and the shelf life might start ticking at the start of development, not at the time of deployment. Most technology - or a large part of it, anyway - is fad-driven, and fads turn over with the seasons. There are very few products that really need to be brick shithouses, and effort invested in bricking the shithouse is necessarily not invested in other things.

Again, this isn't to say that there's no point in taking pride in doing your work well, or in stopping to fix things that are actually broken - just that the management position is a lot more rational than developers like to admit.
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#14 Martyr2  Icon User is offline

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Re: Professional misunderstanding in Development

Posted 24 January 2014 - 04:14 PM

After working for a few software companies, I realized that they can be just as clueless as other companies. Sometimes the devs (people like me) are often cut off at the knees when it comes to development timelines, tools and poor decision making from those at the top. You can know all your stuff and write beautiful code, but if the guys at the top want things done on crazy timelines, give you crappy tools to do it with and have you inline js because "that is how they want it" then you too will write some crappy code from time to time.

Software/dev companies are no different than other companies in this respect. Sometimes they are worse because they know what it takes to do it right, but they also know all the quick hacks to speed up things.

:)
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#15 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is offline

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Re: Professional misunderstanding in Development

Posted 24 January 2014 - 04:23 PM

View PostMartyr2, on 24 January 2014 - 06:14 PM, said:

Software/dev companies are no different than other companies in this respect. Sometimes they are worse because they know what it takes to do it right, but they also know all the quick hacks to speed up things.


Yep. This is why I always say "if you want it done right, do it open-source". (notice how much of the rationale for accepting crap work disappears if you take away the market forces...)
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