I work at a small startup – owned by a medical doctor who is also the CEO of the company. Leaving work one Friday evening, I noticed a book, ‘Learn SQL in a Weekend’ lying in his office. On Monday morning, he had evidently learnt enough SQL to let me know triggers were the answer to all our problems.
This got me thinking, why is it that everyone thinks they can be a developer. I don’t believe reading Gray’s Anatomy (abridged), qualifies me to give medical advice, or scanning through the Wall Street Journal is qualification enough to run a Fortune 500 company. Ok that might not be a great example – looking at the way some of them are run – I probably couldn’t do any worse – but I digress.
But getting back to the point – the perception seems to be, that writing software is not a profession, which requires intelligence, training or skill. Why is this?
The worst culprits are the authors of books with names like ‘Learn SQL in a weekend’, ‘C++ for dummies’ or ‘Learn C# in 21 days’. If you think you can learn SQL in a weekend, you shouldn’t be writing a book on SQL – you don’t know anything about it, and dummies cannot learn C++, they can become the president perhaps, but C++ requires basic intelligence. I don’t see a doctor writing a book about ‘Learn Brain Surgery in 21 days’ or a lawyer writing one called ‘Bar Exams for Dummies’. Doctors and lawyers and teachers and any other profession I can think of, will let you know how much work it took to acquire the skills they have.
A DBA I worked with in the past had obviously learnt SQL in a Weekend. We came close to losing our only client because he couldn’t differentiate a LEFT JOIN from a RIGHT JOIN or an INNER JOIN and for some reason felt a FULL OUTER JOIN would solve the problem. It took us 12 days to load data into the data mart we were building using his stored procedures. After we got our hands on his load script, we got it to load the data mart in under 6 hours. Why is it that any hack thinks its possible to be a MS-SQL DBA. I’ve never seen an accountant or school teacher or graphics designer one day decide to read ‘ORACLE in a weekend’ and become an ORACLE DBA.