After reading a lot of rants and essays about developers, their working environments, tools, the process of getting their work done (in relation to “the business” side of things), and career opportunities, I find myself wondering; do we just whine too much about it all, or do we really have to put up with so much more crap than other industries or professions?
Do we suffer from an inflated sense of entitlement - did we (and are expected to continue to) study, learn and practice for years only to end up like battery chickens, churning out code, or are we “deserving” of extra perks, privileges and financial reward?
Yes, developers are almost entirely responsible for every cent made (and even more so for every loss!) in almost every industry these days, and in most cases, I really don’t believe they get the credit they deserve (new product launched, management team praised and treated to expensive outing, golf day, or conference to show it off while we are at work hacking on the Next Big Thing). But we’re not alone in our suffering and expectations of better things.
Somewhere there’s the Accounting Drone capturing all the cents made possible by the developers. The Accounting Drone also has a shitty manager who expects them to capture more cents every day, under shitty conditions with just as shitty deadlines, for very poor pay. This guy’s job security is also near non-existent. Nobody capturing all the cents means us whiny developers don’t get paid. Maybe there are some rants and essays about the unreasonable conditions and tools the Accounting Drone must endure.
Elsewhere, there is the Sales Bro. Generally the bane of every developer’s life (worse than project managers!). It’s all very well for us to come up with the latest and greatest version of Thing2000 the world has ever seen, but I personally do not know a single developer who would be capable of selling Thing2000 on their own. Yes, we’ll all be highly indigent when Sales Bro “sells” Thing2000 Feature X before it exists, but at least someone out there actually knew Thing2000 existed and (hopefully) needs it to have Feature X (and is thus generating revenue for Accounting Drone to count and pay us with). I’m sure Sales Bro also has a blog where he complains about how he can never get his job done because developers are always so slow and uncooperative in delivering new things his customers need.
Let’s not forget Support Pleb, who has to suffer through customers rants and idiocy, while finding creative ways around developers shortcomings. I’m fairly confident a very large percentage of issues Support Pleb has to deal with day-to-day could be resolved by a bit of development time. This guy puts up with a huge amount of shit that would otherwise fall directly on developers, again, for crappy pay and non-existent job security. I’m pretty sure Support Pleb bitterly resents those developer slackers who always seem to be making more work for him, yet scatter like ants when problems are brought to their attention.
Finally we also have to have the Big Wig at the top somewhere. Those unreasonable people who are always hiring newbs and firing us, placing us in uncomfortable office environments, not shelling out for the tools we need, and dictating unreasonable deadlines. Again, unfortunately, I do not know a single developer capable of establishing and running a business the way Big Wig does. Big Wig possibly posts internet rants about how all he wants is for his Accounting Drones, Sales Bros, Support Plebs and developers to make more money for him - and doesn’t find that an unreasonable expectation, since he’s established and ensures the continuity the enterprise paying all their salaries.
So, are developer rants and whines about how bad they have it justified? For the most part, I’m going to have to say no. I’m also going to hazard that most of the problems developers face, in terms of unreasonable expectations, poor tools, lack of recognition, are not a result of simply being in software development as a profession, but are the result of poor management (at various levels of an organization), and are in fact faced by most other professions as well. We’re just more comfortable getting behind a keyboard and dumping our thoughts on the internet :).
TL;DR: As much as we like to think we might be, we’re not the be-all and end-all of our place of employment, and find a job at a company that makes you happy(-er).