Dear software tool vendors, RE: I’m breaking up with you

Dear software tool vendors,

Reading Chad’s ReSharper love letter reminded me we need to talk.

I’m breaking up with you.

Your solutions seemed so enticing.  It seemed my excitement had no bounds, as I waited longingly for each press release and blog post detailing your new features.  How did I ever live without that AJAX-y web grid?  My life was so empty before you.

You solved problems I didn’t even know I had.  I didn’t know I needed three different types of XML models to describe my data.  Since you are the experts of the domain of your tool, I trusted you to guide me in picking the tool.

Straightforward problems of yesterday seem impossible today, given the volume of features you said you were delivering.  Because of my zeal to use the latest and greatest, I would pressure the business to use your pre-pre-pre alpha versions instead.

I had no reason to doubt you would deliver on the promises of ludicrous increases in productivity, as there is a never-ending supply of supporters of your tool in the blogosphere.

But I got wise.

These bloggers, although not paid employees for you, received plenty of other pecuniary gains from their myopic praise and support.  They spoke at conferences, got better jobs, received awards, all for being an expert in your tool.

Familiarity with your tool gives them no authority in the domain of your tool.  In only gives them authority in the subject of your tool.  Unless I can talk reasonably about ORM and database mapping strategies, I can only be an expert in NHibernate.

I, like many others, misplaced and gave undue authority to these experts.  I did not see what they and your company put out as how-to’s, best practices and examples: pure marketing.

And now I’m better for it.

I won’t get excited over V.Next.  I won’t follow releases intently.  I won’t badger my co-workers, “have you checked out the latest Floogle release?”

Because tools come and go.  Design and architecture values and principles last.

Unless you solve an existing problem, match my values, then keep on walking.  I’m not answering the door, you can peddle your wares elsewhere.  Invent problems for some other sucker.

And tool vendors that I do decide to use?  I’ll only recommend you after putting you through a serious gauntlet.  But don’t expect me to be loyal.  As soon as something solves my problems better than you, I’ll switch in a heartbeat.

Ultimately, all that matters is that I give my employers the best return on their investment I can.  That means good design and a maintainable ecosystem.

Look, it’s not me, it’s you.  And it feels so good to say goodbye.

We may meet again in the future, but only on my terms and only after I’ve chunked your marketing message out the window.


A liberated developer

About Jimmy Bogard

I'm a technical architect with Headspring in Austin, TX. I focus on DDD, distributed systems, and any other acronym-centric design/architecture/methodology. I created AutoMapper and am a co-author of the ASP.NET MVC in Action books.
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  • David Lawton

    Nearly spat out my coffee there, best blog i have read in a long time!


  • That was pretty good Jimmy. I guess you would not be interested in hearing about Telegistics’ new Active MVC Control Pack Pro ALT.NET Edition, would you?

  • Joe

    <3 <3

  • Lloyd

    Excellent points! Could not agree more.

  • Great post. It’s so true, but the trouble is that I bet you just won’t be able to help yourself checking out the latest versions of everything. ;-)

    It’s just so addictive for all geeks!

  • It’s a tough balance. At one extreme, you can spend all your time following the latest and greatest. At the other, you can choose blissful ignorance and re-invent everything yourself.

    Your conclusion shows that you’re not giving up on tool vendors – you’re just going to cautiously evaluate them. You’re only using tools which solve problems, you’re not getting attached, and you’re going to critically evaluate them before buying in. That seems like a good balance to me.

  • schneider

    I’m also tired of upgrading a tool to satisfy other customers needs/wants and get nothing but a bill and more maintenance in return.

  • The same is true for Microsoft and Sun, not just the smaller houses. I don’t think MS is solving any new problems with .Net 3.5, just creating different ways to do the same thing and gaining revenue from that. Yet, some of us follow it like sheep.

    LINQ? Explain to me again how inserting SQL into compiled code is a good thing? (uneducated thought for sure)

    Funny times we occupy…

  • @Wayne

    What can I say? We programmers are distracted by shiny new things. It’s a tough reaction to overcome.

  • Bogard, yeah, I guess so. I think lately I’ve been turning my back on all the new things coming out so perhaps I’m a bit frustrated waking each day and finding something new to turn my back on.

    I’ll tell you what though, I’ve accomplished so much more and I’ve been able to make strides toward crawling out of debt and start saving some money towards the future due to ignoring all the flip and flair of what’s new on a daily/weekly basis.

    Perhaps it’s a simply a matter of priorities. Hope I didn’t stray this post too far left field. It’s got me thinking a bit. Thanks!

  • Tools can be a trap.

    Linq is not just about SQL.