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Atwood's Law Misunderstood

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Jeff Atwood, of Coding Horror and stackoverflow fame made a blog post entitled All Programming is Web Programming

Go read it, and come back, I'll wait.

Okay back? Good

I was originally just going to comment but then I realized the scroll bar couldn't get any smaller on my browser and the page size was probably close to some sort of limit, so that idea went out the window. So here goes…

First off, Michael Braude seems a bit off his rocker. A few bits short of a full Unicode character, if you will. If you just read the parts quoted by Atwood, you'd think this. If you read the full post and also this comment by Braude, you'll see that by web 'programming' he mainly means the HTML and Javascript portion, not the server side portion. In his post he does, however, whine about throwing together a simple ASP.NET page. But really, somebody could just as easily drop some controls around and make a simple desktop app and not have to know anything about what Braude talks about. But enough about that.

If either Atwood or Braude are actually 100% serious, they've lost it. Braude's side is filled with his fairly forceful opinion that web programmers are essentially idiots (again, keeping in mind he probably - nay, hopefully - means those who simply stick to basic HTML and Javascript).

The reason most people want to program for the web is that they're not smart enough to do anything else.

And he's got a point: it doesn't take much skill to make pretty pictures appear inside a web browser.

Atwood, on the other hand, goes in completely the opposite direction. Is his post simply well crafted sarcastic and ironic linkbait, as one commenter suggested?

As a number of comments on Atwood's post point out (which further reinforce the previous hypothesis) all programming will not be on the web. You need some sort of OS to run the browser, you need servers with an OS to run the webserver, you need embedded systems powering the network switches and everything else. So maybe all the application programming will be web programming, but certainly not all programming.

I think what I like most about these two blog posts are the comments. Some point obvious flaws in the logic of the writer, like how Braude says web programming isn't difficult, but also complains for a paragraph on all the difficulties one would face being a 'web guy'. How Atwood says not all applications should be web applications, but then ends with his post title. The fact is, web programming (I include the server side portion in my umbrella of web programming), is hard, and so is everything else. Programming is just a hard thing.

The thing that makes it so awesome, is that I can be happy programming my web apps, Mr. Braude can be happy programming his stuff, and we never have to interact if we don't want to. He doesn't want to be a web developer? Fine. More for me.

We can all move on though, since it's all just on the web and should be taken with a grain of salt anyway.

Move along, nothing to see here…


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