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Dec 2013 10

State of the Industry Concerns

Software development

I gotta be honest with you; I'm exceedingly concerned with the state of my industry. I take umbrage with what frameworks like wordpress and jquery have done to us. On the one hand they are great tools that serve a purpose and fill a need, but on the other you have a whole generation of people who have only ever learned how to use them and don't understand the underlying technology.. At all.

At GROK, we are interviewing "developers" and trying to find that right hire. But the number of folks that have come forward claiming to be PHP experts have apparently really only ever worked with wordpress and as such have virtually zero understanding of PHP as a language. How can you call yourself a PHP expert and not understand the object model? Or even what an object is in a couple cases.

And don't even get me started on the folks who say they know jquery and are an expert with it, but also say they don't know javascript... What?! That doesn't even make sense..

That's like someone saying they are an accountant who is an expert at quickbooks, but that they don't understand basic accounting..

The real tragedy is that these folks are able to get 85k to 120k jobs with their paltry skills and think its completely reasonable to expect to get more when they move on. I think they are setting themselves up for an incredible fall.

I have done a number of interviews now with different folks and while some of them were knowledgeable and good, some were embarrassingly bad.

My interview style is rough but friendly. It's no where near as bad as some of the pressure cooker/shark tanks I have been to in my day, but I expect you to know what you say you know at the level you say you know it.

If I ask you what your PHP skill is 0 to 10 and you tell me 10, I'm gonna ask you questions that I would expect only Rasmus Lerdorf to know. It stuns me how many people claim to be a 9 or 10, when they aren't even a 3.. This is what wordpress has done to us.. Same thing happens with javascript and jquery or any of the myriad of other frameworks out there.

I realize we all have to start somewhere, but quite a lot of these people think they are senior developers when they wouldn't even qualify as a junior one.

Do yourself a favor, learn the underlying technology. Ask yourself; 'Why does this work?'

A Javascript expert should be able to create their own jquery from scratch. I'm not saying they should, just that they understand how it works and why it works and could if they needed to. There's no mystery to it to them, it's just a tool.

A PHP expert should be able to write wordpress from scratch. etc.. (Come to think of it, a true PHP expert would look at the wordpress source and shudder.. )

When your software goes from 'magic' to just another tool in your toolbox that you fully understand, then you can call yourself an expert. Until then, you have some learning to do.

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