Joel on Development Abstraction

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“Joel’s”:http://www.joelonsoftware.com/ a pretenious schmuck a lot of the time, but he really does tend to know what he’s talking about. His latest article, “The Development Abstraction Layer”:http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/DevelopmentAbstraction.html really hits the nail on the head in oh so many way.


A modern organisation, even a small startup, has at least dozen or so roles that really need to be filled in order for the organisation to really work well. Many of these roles exist to buffer the other roles, and all of these roles are important.

Expecting someone to handle several roles is a recipe for disaster that causes many small companies to collapse.

Author: Robert Watkins

My name is Robert Watkins. I am a software developer and have been for over 18 years now. I currently work for people, but my opinions here are in no way endorsed by them (which is cool; their opinions aren’t endorsed by me either). My main professional interests are in Java development, using Agile methods, with a historical focus on building web based applications. I’m also a Mac-fan and love my iPhone, which I’m currently learning how to code for. I live and work in Brisbane, Australia, but I grew up in the Northern Territory, and still find Brisbane too cold (after 16 years here). I’m married, with two children and one cat. My politics are socialist in tendency, my religious affiliation is atheist (aka “none of the above”), my attitude is condescending and my moral standing is lying down.

2 thoughts on “Joel on Development Abstraction”

  1. I’m afraid that I’m still in the “Joel’s a pretentious schmuck” camp. That article is written from the point of view that the software developers are royalty and that the rest of the company are merely servants. And I say that’s BS.

  2. Perhaps, but I read it as Joel’s point being that:
    * There’s a lot that goes on beyond the scenes at a company
    * Many of the roles in a company serve to buffer the other roles – e.g. tech support buffers accounts from the hassles of keeping the accounting server up.
    * Many of the buffers are reciprocal (accounts buffers tech support from the hassles of getting the payroll run completed)
    * When management is doing their job right, a lot of these buffers aren’t very obvious.

    When you only focus on what the other roles do for you, it looks like they are servants. But the programmers in Joel’s articles had outgoing responsibilites as well: they had to develop product, fix bugs, investigate customer bug reports, etc. It’s just that those responsibilities weren’t to (many of) the other roles in the company.

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