Letter from the newsletter editor: What works?

A reader wrote us a thoughtful e-mail the other day. He raised interesting points about this economy, the programmer's lot and this publication. Here is his letter:

''I have trouble finding information in Programmers Report that is of real interest to me. It is too easy to report on the Next Best Thing. What I need is the lowdown on the economics of this crazy business. I need real business advice on how to break into newer technologies. I've done it before and am attempting it now, but it seems that just as you get the requisite experience, the technology goes out of favor OR you picked a new technology that doesn't even grow at all. If someone would just acknowledge this problem in print (or electrons) it would be an improvement.''

These words are well measured -- true, we are certain, for this reader and for others. Be assured: We are trying to be of interest and relevant to programmers' needs. We appreciate that he took the time to write and will work hard at the job he outlines while we continue to cover the 'tool news.'

We know that when we write about one tool or technology, we lose the interest of anyone who does not use that particular tool -- that is unless we cut often enough to the core matters and help to uncover programming practices and rules that work across all tools. Technologies do come and go, and they leave programmers and companies holding the bag. Sorting through the options is a job that never goes away.

In fact, the programmer's job itself is still mostly art. Suppose tools come along some day that can automate 99% of that job; their output will be dross if the programmer's art is not properly applied to their use. In our ongoing series of interviews with practitioners, many of them noted authors, we seek to address the deeper issues our reader raised here. Included in this series is a discussion with Robert Read, author of ''How to Be a Programmer'' found at www.adtmag.com/article.asp?id=7279; a talk with VB specialist Jon Rauschenberger on object technology and VB, which is found at www.adtmag.com/article.asp?id=7325; and the rules of secure coding with Steve Orrin, Sanctum CTO, at www.adtmag.com/article.asp?id=7562.

We hope to inform programmers about what worked yesterday, what works today and what will work tomorrow. At the same time, the need to continually learn and re-learn seems to always characterize the software endeavor.

On a personal note: These are the darkest times I have seen in technology in 20 years as a technology writer. I feel that the ''new'' has been oversold in the past, especially during the Internet boom. And most everyone is now paying for that. In many cases, hard-won design practices were thrown out, but we must be doubly sure to assert them again.

Uche Ogbuji, an XML specialist and ADT columnist, has given thought to these general issues lately. Ogbuji reminds us that flexibility, creativity and an understanding of core computing principles will always be needed, no matter what name or certification requirements fly over the technology of the day.

It is Programmers Report's goal to look for the enduring core principles, even as we look at the newest tools. The mold of the future is in the developer's hands.

We appreciate feedback. If you wish to write to us, please send an e-mail to Jack Vaughan at mailto:jvaughan@101com.com.

Links:

For other Programmers Report articles, please go to http://www.adtmag.com/article.asp?id=6265

About the Author

Jack Vaughan is former Editor-at-Large at Application Development Trends magazine.

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