Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Wrong Ways, first in a series

After a few days spent doing ColdFusion support I'm doing some more Struts/Hibernate development today.

An observation: There's a right way to set up developers' environments, and there are dozens of wrong ways. I feel like I have a pretty good grasp of some of the wrong ways, and now I'd like to share them with you. Critically important note: These observations do not pertain to my current client or my employer.

Wrong Way #1: Stint on hardware. A consultant costs, let's say, $100/hr. A fully-loaded full-time employee might be $70/hr. According to newegg, 4 GB of RAM from a no-name vendor costs $100. If you want to go with a really reliable, trusted vendor, you might spend $200. If you are furnishing a consultant with hardware, a really great Wrong Way to do things would be to save $200 on memory. Give him a machine with 1 GB or less. Sure, it takes 15 minutes for his machine to boot every day, and lockups, crashes, and slow response time cost at least an hour a day. But you saved the cost of that memory!

(but seriously) This is especially and offensively common when different cost centers or different managers are paying for developers' time versus developers' hardware. The MIS guys saved $150 off their budget but cost the company an additional $6000 in developer productivity over three months. Woo! Way to contribute! Go team!

Wrong Way #2: Lock down that Internet. Developers can't be trusted with free reign to go to any website they want. Network administrators know what kind of tools, open-source libraries, and reference materials a developer could want. Let the network guys and their management make that determination. Blogs? Forget it! Those things are just time sinks, they're like reading the newspaper at work. And there's no reason to differentiate between a customer service rep and a software developer in terms of Internet access. If you can't trust a CSR with access to, there's no way a developer needs it. Lock 'em all down.

Wrong Way #3: Shared environments. Software licensing is expensive. Rather than spring for a development license for each developer, why not set up a shared dev server, with a shared database and everything? Don't give developers local development environments; just make their desktops into glorified terminals. Also, this way your developers won't have to worry about solving problems when they're away from an Internet connection or when the VPN is down. That will encourage them to spend more time in the office.

Oh, I bet there are plenty more of these I could do...

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