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Ruby eye for the anti-newbie guy

Posted by Wed, 18 Jan 2006 15:44:00 GMT

7 comments Latest by fabert Mon, 30 Jan 2006 15:51:50 GMT

I was skimming over a few RSS feeds ( ) this morning and came across an entry by Griffin Caprio. He shared his thought on the new book by Chris Pine, Learn to Program and says the following:

”...You wouldn’t see these types of books in other professions like medical, engineering, or accounting because there are boards that prevent just any old person from practicing in those fields.

Not so in computing. But is this what we want to encourage? Anyone and everyone picking up software and just giving it a go?

And I understand everyone’s love of Ruby, but come on people. It’s just a language.”

Actually, yes. Learning to program, build, create, test, problem solve, etc… are all things that we should encourage.

Let’s do a quick search on amazon for the following, Learn to Program. I’m pretty sure these books have been common place for the past 20+ years… so, what’s the big deal?

It’s like telling a kid not to build a bird house until he gets a contractors license and a permit.

...or telling someone to not pick up a guitar until they had proper lessons.

...or maybe you shouldn’t be running a business without graduating from college.

I could go on and on.

Oh… and by the way…

puts "Hello World"

is much sexier than

public static void main(String[] args) {
  System.out.println ("Hello World"); 

On that note… check out Learn to Program by Chris Pine.

UPDATE Griffin has followed up to my blog entry with another. He goes on to say, “The kid who builds the bird house above would never be hired to build an actual house. Not true in Software Development.” (read more)

I think this problem raises a completely different problem. Why are unqualified people being hired to do things that they aren’t qualified for? Do we blame the people learning to program or do we look at who hires these people in the first place? I’m still confused by his argument.

That kid may not get hired to build a house, but he may get interested in that as a career and continue to pursue it… if someone hires him to build the whole house, then the person hiring should be held accountable do some degree as well. Check references! ;-)

On the flip-side… is this an argument to only take people who have been approved by some board (...MCSE?) seriously when hiring developers?

Update #2

Griffin has outlined his points in more detail in this third entry.

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  1. Avatar
    Griffin Caprio Wed, 18 Jan 2006 17:02:46 GMT
  2. Avatar
    Robby Russell Wed, 18 Jan 2006 17:29:38 GMT Recommend me on Working with Rails


    After reading your response… I apologize for calling you out like this and thank you for clarifying your context a bit more. The problem that you are describing should not be blamed on books that teach people how to program. That problem that you are describing is an issue with people trying to get development jobs that they don’t have the experience for and a lack of research on candidates that you hire.

    “Can you show us an example of your code?” goes a long way….

  3. Avatar
    Griffin Caprio Wed, 18 Jan 2006 20:11:29 GMT


    No need to apologize. I didn’t think you were calling me out.

    ““Can you show us an example of your code?” goes a long way….”

    Funny you should mention that:

  4. Avatar
    dylan Thu, 19 Jan 2006 17:35:35 GMT

    ( puts “hello world” )

    Back when I used to program, we had to recursively call facade pointers and pull the bits off the stack manually… on punchcards… through 10 feet of snow.

  5. Avatar
    brasten Thu, 19 Jan 2006 22:53:26 GMT

    Nice theme! Is this something you came up with or is it a freely-available Typo theme?

  6. Avatar
    Shanti Thu, 19 Jan 2006 23:47:28 GMT

    Robby – posted some thoughts over on Griffin’s blog, riffing on the MCSE/certification gang a bit =)

    Re: Ruby and Learning to Program – whenever I make my daily commute and see (whoever it is this week) standing by the side of the road, soliciting money, it makes me want to take him to a community computing center (or shelter), teach him some RoR, and help him build some kick-ass Web 2.0 goodness.

    Sure, it’s not that easy. But I can just see the Rudy-esque movie now… =) anyone? hehe

  7. Avatar
    fabert Mon, 30 Jan 2006 15:51:50 GMT

    I like the theme as well, care to share?