The Developers' Holy Wars

It's the second month of the year and time seems to be flying.There have since been some interesting topics of discussion in technology in the not-so-new year.

Last year ES6 got officially approved and even till now there are still varying opinions on the standard.

Javascript frameworks have seen an incredible increase in numbers. There are so many articles for and against each popular framework. There is a great danger especially for less experienced developers to get lost in the sea of frameworks.

This post is not restricted to javascript alone rather it focuses on the "holy wars" (and "holy discussions" if you like) waged between advocates of different programming languages (and frameworks).

Most recently, after work a colleague, @joerex101 pastes the code snippet below on our slack channel as an example of Ruby's elegance and brevity. There had been an ongoing ruby vs php discussion:

[1, 2, 3, 4].zip([1, 2, 2, 2]).count { |left, right| left != right }

With enthusiasm I replied in PHP with this snippet:

count(array_diff([1,2,3,4], [1,2,2,2]))  

We then proceed to wage a brief "holy battle", PHP vs Ruby (fight!).

More recently on the mailing list of the Google developers group in Lagos, someone asked "Why don't we get more of Ruby on Rails adverts on Gtug (Lagos)?".

There were of course varying responses, from Ruby devs moving over to node, to a lack of Ruby job requests and a user in the list posted this as a reply while also stating that there did not seem to be as many Ruby developers in Nigeria as there are PHP and JavaScript developers:

All looked set for another "holy war", and in all fairness I was all prepped for the arguments and counter arguments. However while I did not get what I was expecting, I got something more. Quoting one of the users on the mailing list directly:

"I should have made a point that knowing a language doesn't restrict you to that language, employment wise. We should all pride ourselves in continually learning and challenging ourselves, and align ourselves to the market needs".

The key in that statement being "alignment to the market needs".

Therein lies the most important truth. Consumers really do not care if your shiny new website was written in PHP, Ruby or even C. All that is important is that it works and delivers the required value.

This is not to say that developers should not engage in the occasional holy war- I would go as far as to say that it is necessary- but we should not get so carried away by the PHP vs Ruby vs Python vs [insert language here] that we forget our primary task/role/job description:

Software developers/engineers.

The languages we choose are just tools. A carpenter would not argue too much over the importance of a ball point hammer as compared to a sledge hammer. He knows which is best for the given task.

Whichever tech stack gets the product to market in the best minimum viable shape and in the shortest time with the least cost is the always the best choice.

A final reference to the Ruby vs PHP war on our slack channel, my colleague put up some strong statements concerning the points I have highlighted in the paragraphs above:

"I’m looking to build apps that will serve their own purpose and not surpass the speed of light. This is my manifesto"

In the market, the customer is king. Those who survive are those who provide the most value to the customer.

As the year continues, ship more code, more products. Just ship!

Obinna Stanley Agba

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