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Oncall for Developers

I started my career as a developer in the mid-90s, around the DC area, as companies were just starting to realize the benefits the web could offer. Back then, as you would around that part of country, I started off by doing a lot of government contracts for different agencies. As many companies during that time,back then (and especially given government role segmentation) it was a widely accepted practice that developers could never access production. We sat quietly in the corner, wrote the code, and threw it over the wall to operations to deploy and manage. We were not allowed to not touch the production database or any of production services. Which made the feedback loop … interesting. With time, some companies became a bit more liberal (and I moved away from public sector) and we, as developers, were granted limited permission to deploy and troubleshoot issues in production.

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Of Gardening and Engineering

We build our computer (systems) the way we build our cities: over time, without a plan, on top of ruins.
– Ellen Ullman

Lately, I find myself thinking back to a decade long argument on whether computer industry should be considered engineering or gardening. For those unfamiliar (or young enough) – when Chris wrote the article in 2011, it started a holly war argument, manifesting itself (pun intended) in Software Gardening Manifesto. Full disclosure, I was always on the engineering side of the argument. I find the more “flowery” argument to have limited, to say the least, understanding of both software and civil engineering. Eleven years later, I am (arguably) more mature and (certainly) more experienced. And it is worth revisiting the conversation to define the software industry as it stands for those entering it.

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