Thursday, November 04, 2004

Visual Designers?

Java Kid talks about visual designers, and asks if people rely on them too much. Here is what I have to say to that…once upon a time people coded on punch cards. I do not have first hand experience with punch cards, but I have heard that they were a treat. They were especially fun if you accidentally entered an O instead of a zero or if the cards got out of order.

When people started programming in DOS instead of using punch cards, I bet some people were up in arms. I wonder if the argument flew around that real engineers did not use DOS. Where is the discipline in DOS? Anybody can write programs in DOS, it takes someone with training and superior intelligence to program on punch cards! Look at all these rag-tag new-fangled youngsters with no experience hopping right in to the development community!

I also have known people who love notepad. All you need to write a good application is a text editor and a compiler, right? Visual Studio is for sissies, and intellisense is for people who are not careful enough to spell correctly when they are typing and for people who don’t already know which assemblies house which classes.

To that, I say bah!

I think that using visual designers fall right along side using intellisense while coding. If intellisense helps you work faster and cleaner, then I don’t buy the argument that we should experience a certain amount of pain in order to be respected as intelligent software engineers. In my opinion, visual designers sometimes come in handy. I use the visual designers when I would otherwise be writing a bunch of repetitive HTML. I can drag a control onto a page and position it with a click. In short, tools such as the visual designer can help me with simple and repetitive tasks and leave me more time to focus on my programming logic.

4 comments:

blameMike said...

Right on sister.

I feel if the RAD tools make you more productive (which I’m betting they will), then by all means use whatever is at your disposal.

I can see JK's point, about the "Mort" programmers relying on the tools too much -- and perhaps not learning the methodology behind them. However, I'm fairly certain our bosses don't care if we wrote all the code for a Windows or Web Form by hand in emacs, or if we let the Forms Designer generate it for us.
They care about deadlines, and utilizing the tools at hand can only help to meet said deadlines.

Justin J. Vogt said...

C# Gal,

You missed the point, I am not saying that these tools are not useful or that they are not productive. These tools were designed to make our lives easier and increase productivity.

What I am saying is that I have seen people rely too heavily on Visual Designers and I was wondering if the Visual Designer encouraged this or that developer was just not very good.

I have seen people create really good quality software with the use of these designers, but I've also seen a lot of terribly inflexible code written with the use of these things.

What I wanted to know is how do we encourage people to create quality software, and at the same time make their lives easier and more productive?

If you ask me... it's through the use of tools like Refactoring, Unit Testing, and Code Navigation. From my experience the Visual Designers have never bought me anything... except when I was just starting out, and since then I've pretty much discontinued my use of them.

Anonymous said...

I agree with JavaKid.. but I take a slightly less purist/elistest view to visual designers.

Am I upset that people with no degree or formal education in computer science are above me (even though they are just at the same experience level)... yes.. do I think that core programming skills are NOT learned in ANY fashion from Visual Designers... yes ... Can they be productive? ... yes ... do we all still make money... yes ... do people rely on them too much... yes .... EVEN one of my coworkers bawks at the fact that I don't use intellisense as often as I should. and I bet I can code just as efficiently as anyone who uses it.

Am I cocky... yes ...

Jake
from whoISjake.com fame

Anonymous said...

The problem I have with VD... erm... Visual Designers... is that it lowers the bar for quality so that the average Joe can make an application. While this can be a really good thing since I think everyone should be able to make the computer work for them, not against them... it's also a bad thing because it means the quality of software (on the whole) goes down. I think if the designers enforced proper UI behavior, then it wouldn't be so bad. But that concept doesn't work in practice...

So I'm stuck with a weird love/hate relationship. I love that people like my mom can make software herself with tool like Visual and REAL basic. But then again, I see so many shudderingly disgusting UIs come out of this easy-to-code paradigm...

I think it boils down to the fact that there are good programmers and bad programmers. No amount of help from a tool will make bad programmers into good ones. So use a RAD tool if you want to since it lets you focus on the more important things. And if you don't like RAD tools, then don't bother!

~Aaron [http://ramblings.aaronballman.com]