Pragmatic articles on software development and management

Hype is ruining software

Published on by pariskasid

Every so often, I see developers getting excited about something new that just came up. This can be anything from a new machine learning tool to a front-end framework, containers, lambdas etc.

Τhis is great on the surface. There is a huge amount of knowledge available for free to virtually everyone and it’s also easy for anyone to put something out to the world. Having also always something fresh to look into, helps staying interested and not get bored. Pretty rad.

The party breaks though when the hype starts creeping into the way we take decisions as software developers. This constant and uncontrolled flow of information has nurtured the notion that in order to be a competent “True Developer ™️” you have to live on the bleeding edge. Developers are expected to be up to date with the latest trends — no matter their relevance with their job — and are also expected to adopt them ASAP.

I have seen quite a lot of developers in irrational anxiety and fear of becoming obsolete, in case they do not stay up to date with “what’s happening in the industry”.

Have you ever witnessed all-hype-centered discussions like the following?

  • Hey, did you check out JSPACK v0.23.5-alpha that compiles your JS and PNG files in a unibundle via blockchain-powered containerized lambdas?
  • Duh, of course. They also shipped a hotfix about 11 minutes ago, because of a bug that changed ownership of all files on your files system to user “nobody”.
  • SHIT! I BETTER CATCH UP!

Step back and think how often did the latest “cool” update of your favorite library had an actual impact on your users or even you, as a developer? By most chances, not so often.

Adopting the bleeding edge does not have an impact to justify the everyday anxiety of staying relevant and not becoming obsolete. If there is a problem impacting people and you are looking on demand for tools to build a solution for it, you won’t get obsolete.

Refreshing your Twitter feed every second minute to see what new software library version got announced and then thinking of ways to adopt it is vain and harmful. And no one ever stayed relevant and competent because they used the latest versions of some software.

Developers stay relevant when they solve relevant problems.

People don’t give a damn how you built your thing. They only care if they can use it to improve their lives. Period. To wrap this up; stop reading Twitter, Hacker News, Reddit and all these folks every second minute. Unsubscribe from open-source issues on GitHub, unless you have control and say in the process. Unsubscribe from some newsletters.

Opt-out of the hype, ask “what should you solve now”, open your editor and focus. It’s time to build great software.