Across my, so called, career, I was working in different environments: small companies, big corporations, medium company going small, small company going global, a consultancy in corp culture trying to be agile, an agile small company falling into the corp culture. I also worked with different technologies, those which came from such ones like: M$, IBM, Oracle, SAP, and those which used to be ignored by big boys: Open Source, Apple, Web Standards, Ruby on Rails. I went through many project management styles, from "project life cycle" lectured and exercised at Uni, email, meetings and phone calls driven chaos, Agile techniques which looked a bit fanatic, waterfall, thick book formal specification prepared by BAs, extremely fast craziness, through online project management tools like Basecamp, Jira, self written one. 

Today I already know what kind of working culture makes my day. 37Signals proved that you can do less to make it better. They also proved that people can be happy at work. Fog Creek created a great office as they think it is a key thing to have a great working environment for creative programming.

When looking back at technologies, they reflect the culture of those who create them. Jira is messy, cluttered, confusing, even people who insisted on using it by me, they just don't use it. Why? Maybe it is not comfortable to be used? David Allen in his "Getting Things Done" book explained that we need to organise ourselves in a way that "filing stuff has to be fun, so we could do it with pleasure". Some working cultures, like corp one, claim that work doesn't have to be fun, it is just work and you should just do it because they pay you for it. Such culture is a common perception. When I openly speak to people who are close to me that it doesn't have to be like that, they look at me in a funny way. But some say: "And the only way to do a great work is to love what you do [...] so keep looking, don't settle"

I kept looking and I found: Web Standards when I could not stand the pain of developing web sites for IE which then should also look good in other popular browsers, which at the time was only IE in different versions and then a bit of FireFox. Web Standards with Jeffrey Zeldman shown that we can do it in a better way, do it according to standards so it displays well everywhere and then we have a pain of developing for IE. Ruby on Rails with respect for Web Standards made programming a pleasure. Those who laughed at first at "framework that's optimized for programmer happiness and sustainable productivity" are trying to replicate that within their environments: Java, .Net, PHP etc. I decided 5 years ago to take a risk and follow the happy route and switch from .Net to Ruby on Rails. Even if it meant to deal with lack of backwards compatibility which is soooo important for Java developers or for Windows. I prefer using better OS which leaves behind things which did not really work out, even if it means I would need to spend more money for newer computer. That's why I use Mac OS X. I don't mind if new Basecamp is actually a new product with many things dropped from the Basecamp Classic, if that means a better approach to project management. I'm fine with big changes between different versions of Ruby on Rails even if I have many projects in so many different Ruby on Rails versions. Because I can see how good choices have been made by Open Source community. Even if those choices might be judged as not the best ones one day, we all know it can be changed with new, better choices, because backwards compatibility or corp culture won't stop us from that.

These days banks are looking for Ruby on Rails developers and they pay good money. More important though is how great web applications are being created. Many of them built on that framework, others using Ruby on Rails approach within other frameworks. I don't mind if there are many project management tools around (Basecamp, Trello, Asana, Jira, Codebase). I will try to use the new Basecamp. I trust the people from 37Signals. I don't need to use the best one. The great one is enough for me. 

Leave a Reply.