Developers, Code Cowboys and Architecture Astronauts

Developers, Code Cowboys and Architecture Astronauts.
Slums, Skyscrapers and Ghost Cities.
Similar to constructing buildings, there are (at least) three approaches to software development:

devs-coders-cowboys

Coders = Slums – Quickly built using material and knowledge at hand to develop for a small audience quickly. Good ideas will be copy-pasted from one area to another and modified to suit the individuals needs. We can cover a lot of ground quickly but it doesn’t scale, plumbing and electricity break down.

Developers = Skyscrapers – Construction takes longer, the outcome can result in a uniformity, often piecing together existing architectural concepts or libraries into a fairly standard shape. We can scale to a higher level (density of people) but we need more upfront planning and less individuality.

Architecture Astronauts = Ghost Cities = Master architects devise grand schemes of hugely scaleable systems but there are fundamental flaws in the plan and often the need of actual end users are ignored.

If this conceptual metaphor holds, what could we learn from the building industry?

  • Don’t employ a coder when you need an architect?
  • Sometimes you need to clear a slum, displeasing those residents to replace it with an efficient residential building, which will take time and investment?
  • Building quality needs enforced by external parties?
    Similar to governmental building inspections.
  • Always get the core plumbing right, the facade/paint can be changed later?
  • …?
  • Is there anything they could learn from software development?

Perhaps the most important thing is to decide which category you are aiming for.

 

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