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The Web Development Skills Crisis

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the those-ajax-guys-are-hard-to-find dept.

Programming 471

snydeq writes "Fatal Exception's Neil McAllister raises questions regarding Web development skills in an era of constant innovation. Sure, low barriers to entry give underdog technologies ample opportunity to thrive without the backing of name-brand vendors. But doesn't this fragmentation of the Web development market put undue pressure on developers to specialize? Choosing one tool to be your bread and butter from a field this broad is one thing, McAllister writes. Recruiting talent for a Web project when your technology requirements eliminate most of the applicants is another. The result is a crisis, McAllister concludes, one in which maintaining a marketable skill set gets more and more difficult as the so-called state of the art changes on an almost daily basis."

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Really? (2, Interesting)

DotNM (737979) | more than 6 years ago | (#24157523)

Everybody and their cousin seems to be calling themselves Web Developers...

Re:Really? (4, Funny)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 6 years ago | (#24157537)

Not me... I'm an Internet Application Developer. Web Developer is so 1990s...

Re:Really? (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#24157585)

Well I'm an Intarweb Tube Engineer!

Re:Really? (1)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 6 years ago | (#24157895)

Hey... we need half a dozen Intarweb Tube Engineers here in the office. Short supply these days.. got a resume?

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24157903)

So you specialize in TCP (Transfer Control Plumbing)?

Re:Really? (5, Insightful)

SomeJoel (1061138) | more than 6 years ago | (#24157555)

It's not a shortage of web developers, it's a shortage of web developers with skills.

Re:Really? (5, Insightful)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 6 years ago | (#24157745)

I think it's a shortage of companies willing to take the effort and risk to train. I had this conversation with my father, who was bemoaning the lack of skilled mechanical engineers. If your requirements are specific, don't expect a huge pile of people (without jobs, mind you!) to be waiting in the wings for your spot to open up. You need someone who might take a year or two to get up to speed, but once there will be good.

THEN - and this is important - you have to be a good place to work and... raise compensation when the person is now the highly trained mythical creature that you would have given your right arm for the year before. Your goal should be to keep his resume un-updated and off monster.

So yeah, there is a definite shortage of people pre-trained for your job opening. There's also a shortage of gold at the end of rainbows and fountains of youth. I think this is a matter of unreasonable expectations.

Re:Really? (5, Insightful)

mc900ftjesus (671151) | more than 6 years ago | (#24158009)

That's the entire problem. Companies love to whine about shortages of employees, while it's their own fault. It was always easier when companies treated skilled employees like assets, now they treat them like disposable labor and are paying dearly for it.

The list:
pensions
training
raises
bonuses
perks

All gone except a 3% cost of living raise that is just compensating for inflation. They complain and bitch and moan about turnover and no "loyalty" when they're the ones at fault. They took away all of the reasons to be loyal to cut costs, so employees jump for a new job with higher salary because salary is the only benefit left.

As an steam turbine engineer... (5, Interesting)

dj245 (732906) | more than 6 years ago | (#24158169)

I'm glad my company (Japanese) doesn't have this problem. My last job had about a week of actual training that wasn't very useful. My new company is sending me to external training ($$$) for about 30 days. Then I get about 12 weeks of company training in Japan. And then 5 weeks of on the job training, and back to Japan for another 4 weeks. Its about 6 months of me doing nothing productive, just training heavilly. The company is making a serious investment in me, and from what I have seen from it in the last month, I will hopefully be sticking with them for a long time.

Don't skimp on the training. Its exactly what makes your employees experts in their areas and want to stick around. We also have casual Friday every day, and that doesn't hurt either.

Re:Really? (3, Insightful)

tyrione (134248) | more than 6 years ago | (#24157753)

It's not a shortage of web developers, it's a shortage of web developers with skills.

Correction:

It's not a shortage of web developers, it's a shortage of web developers with currently in-demand/what's hot now skills.

Re:Really? (3, Interesting)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 6 years ago | (#24157889)

There's a shortage of web developers with the skill of learning new skills. There are plenty of one-trick ponies that will be flipping burgers in 5 years when their "skill du jour" expires and they can no longer operate a computer with any meaningful capacity. For example, if you are great with flash but you refuse to believe that a large MB flash app on the index page may cause a drop in traffic, then better practice up your "would you like fries with that?"

Re:Really? (1, Funny)

teknopurge (199509) | more than 6 years ago | (#24158013)

And chicks dig guys with skills........right?!?!

Re:Really? (4, Funny)

wattrlz (1162603) | more than 6 years ago | (#24158179)

Nah, Chicks dig scars, or giant robots.

Re:Really? (1)

MattW (97290) | more than 6 years ago | (#24158157)

Anyone can claim to be a plumber, too.* That doesn't mean you should let them fix your sink.

* = in some jurisdictions

Re:Really? (1)

Kerstyun (832278) | more than 6 years ago | (#24158227)

Everybody and their cousin seems to be calling themselves Web Developers...

I is mah cousin, y'insetive clod!

change emphasis away from specifics (5, Insightful)

yagu (721525) | more than 6 years ago | (#24157527)

I think the emphasis needs to be less on specific and proprietary technologies and more on how a candidate thinks. While the task and platform/architecture at hand is important, picking someone because they know flash, and you're "doing" flash may be the wrong reasoning. Instead, focus on picking someone who has some proven background, strong in at least a couple of areas. Verify they really are strong, but then ask them questions that make them think. Give them problems to solve. Give them something unsolvable to solve. See how the react.

Getting a sense of how they maneuver in problem-solving situations is going to be a much better indicator of their eventual worth than some credential (certificate, etc.) in the chosen technology du jour. A good tech can always and easily adapt to new and different ways to do things.

Re:change emphasis away from specifics (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#24157663)

While the task and platform/architecture at hand is important, picking someone because they know flash, and you're "doing" flash may be the wrong reasoning.

OTOH, picking someone because they know Flash and you're "doing" J2EE is definitely the wrong reasoning!

Re:change emphasis away from specifics (2, Insightful)

AllIGotWasThisNick (1309495) | more than 6 years ago | (#24157759)

I'm sure this would work well if you are Google, trying to hire candidates in their 20's for a decade or so before they are used up.

On the other hand, if you are a project manager looking for contractors, you really do need someone who is not going to spend 6 months learning the tools (not syntax, but the libraries)

While problem solving skills are important in any programming candidate, they are terribly insufficient to choose an employee for any type of job, other than perhaps Winston the Wolf [imdb.com] .

A good tech can always and easily adapt to new and different ways to do things.

This appears to be the "infinite monkeys" argument. Most companies can't afford (relatively) unlimited development resources, and adaptation takes the most scarce resource in technology development: time.

Not exactly. (1)

khasim (1285) | more than 6 years ago | (#24157875)

On the other hand, if you are a project manager looking for contractors, you really do need someone who is not going to spend 6 months learning the tools (not syntax, but the libraries)

#1. If they're taking 6 months, you've got the wrong person. Anyone who is decently qualified would be able to pick up the new tool in less than a month.

#2. You'd have to be a damn good project manager to be able to spec out the requirements sufficiently that you could hire a contractor like that.

Most companies can't afford (relatively) unlimited development resources, and adaptation takes the most scarce resource in technology development: time.

Which is why you want to hire people who can learn new approaches quickly. And the goods ones can. They know the technology, not the tool. So it becomes an issue of learning the idiosyncrasies of the tool as opposed to other tools that you have used.

Re:Not exactly. (3, Insightful)

AllIGotWasThisNick (1309495) | more than 6 years ago | (#24158051)

#1. If they're taking 6 months, you've got the wrong person. Anyone who is decently qualified would be able to pick up the new tool in less than a month.

I can't even imagine how to learn (to the level required of a professional developer) any large subset of, for example, the java, python, C++ standard libraries in less than a month, and I'm already at least passingly familiar with all of them. I will stick with my gardening for a career path, I guess. While I have no doubt any high-schooler could learn the basic language syntax of the above examples in less than a day, the libraries are typically the real value in any application development language.

#2. You'd have to be a damn good project manager to be able to spec out the requirements sufficiently that you could hire a contractor like that.

Or have started already... or have decided on the tools... or have the tools decided for you already by the existing environment... etc etc.

Which is why you want to hire people who can learn new approaches quickly. And the goods ones can. They know the technology, not the tool

See my response to #1, above. Off to my garden now... :D

Re:change emphasis away from specifics (2, Interesting)

russotto (537200) | more than 6 years ago | (#24157961)

On the other hand, if you are a project manager looking for contractors, you really do need someone who is not going to spend 6 months learning the tools (not syntax, but the libraries)

No problem; I've never run into a contracting agency which wouldn't swear up and down that their people had 10 years of experience in any skill you could come up with.

This appears to be the "infinite monkeys" argument. Most companies can't afford (relatively) unlimited development resources, and adaptation takes the most scarce resource in technology development: time.

Want to save time? Hire your "Winston the Wolf" now, without concern for whether they know the technology. The time they spend getting up to speed on the technology-of-the-week will be much shorter than the time it takes you to find the ideal already-skilled-now candidate -- particularly since the latter may well be bluffing.

Obviously this doesn't apply to complex and well-established technologies; don't hire a SQL DBA who doesn't know SQL. But for the tech-of-the-week stuff, it's a different story.

Re:change emphasis away from specifics (1)

AllIGotWasThisNick (1309495) | more than 6 years ago | (#24158219)

getting up to speed on the technology-of-the-week

Agreed. Technology-of-the-Week, almost by definition, is frequently unripe and thus simple to learn. We seem to agree that well-established technologies are precisely the opposite.

particularly since the latter may well be bluffing

It's interesting that merit doesn't seem to have come up much in this discussion. Having worked in distance education at a University, I've seen many methods for examining learners (or in this case, candidates), and no doubt some of them could be applied to differentiate the true Candidate from the False One.

Re:change emphasis away from specifics (5, Funny)

sohp (22984) | more than 6 years ago | (#24157763)

I know what he means! I've put this job offer through our HR folks literally WEEKS ago and have not seen a SINGLE candidate's resume!

Wanted to hire, Jr. Web Developer.

Required Skills, minimum 10 years experience in the following:

Silverlight
Microsoft(tm) AJAX(tm)
C-pound
SQL Server 2005
MySQL 5.0
ColdFusion
ATOM
IBM(tm) SOA .NET
MS-Groovy
PRISM

Compensation: $14K/yr

Re:change emphasis away from specifics (4, Funny)

eebra82 (907996) | more than 6 years ago | (#24157867)

Maybe the compensation is set too high; it looks like you're kidding.

Re:change emphasis away from specifics (4, Interesting)

rossz (67331) | more than 6 years ago | (#24157931)

Don't laugh. A couple of years ago I saw a very similar job ad. They ran it for months. Nobody with the skill set they wanted would have taken the job at the offered rate (less than $10/hour). I don't remember if I emailed them asking if they were out of their fucking minds.

Re:change emphasis away from specifics (4, Interesting)

Jason Earl (1894) | more than 6 years ago | (#24158135)

You'd be surprised how often people run ridiculous ads because the people doing the hiring already know who they want to hire, but corporate policy requires that they advertise the position.

I've done it.

Fortunately, these days I work at a much saner employer.

Re:change emphasis away from specifics (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 6 years ago | (#24158225)

I saw one the other day that was a basic webmonkey job; they wanted VB.Net and Access and some basic ms-centric crap like that...And seven years of college.

I had more coke in my sinuses than Paris Hilton; a masters for that? Talk about your degree inflation. 3 years of highschool and a fricking MCAD would have been overkill for that gig.

Re:change emphasis away from specifics (4, Funny)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 6 years ago | (#24157941)

We had no problem finding junior devs with those skills, but finding people with PhDs and 20 years of experience in Silverlight and AJAX proved problematic for the senior positions.

Re:change emphasis away from specifics (5, Interesting)

TheMCP (121589) | more than 6 years ago | (#24158041)

You're obviously joking, but I've had it happen to me. I actually had an incident in which the employer was requesting, for a mid level position, 2 years more experience in Java than were possible except for its creators: the JDK had been out for about 4 years at the time and they were asking for 6. I decided it was a simple error on their part and applied anyway. To my shock, I got an angry call from their HR department, who were actually calling to chew me out for applying even though I was "unqualified" for not having the required 6 years of experience. At first I thought it was a joke and laughed, but it became clear they were serious. I tried to explain to them that there were perhaps 7 people on earth with what they were asking for because the JDK had only been out for 4 years, but they were having none of it, and with some parting insults, hung up on me.

In all I'm glad I don't work for them, any company that stupid and unprofessional would not be good for my reputation to have on my resume.

Re:change emphasis away from specifics (1)

bryce4president (1247134) | more than 6 years ago | (#24158161)

Well I see the problem. Its not C-pound, its pronounced C-sharp. See, when you insult your candidates you have a tough time with recruiting. Other than that I think it looks pretty much on par.

Re:change emphasis away from specifics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24158177)

It strikes me as obvious that no one with 10 years experience would bother with 14K a year, not in any field save for maybe serving tables at a cheap restaurant. Nor would any engineer with 10 years experience be attracted to a job with "Jr" in the title. Good luck with that!

Re:change emphasis away from specifics (1)

Jasonjk74 (1104789) | more than 6 years ago | (#24158245)

Sadly, that's not far from the truth. There was a fly-by-night operation near me that was reportedly offering the princely sum of $7/hr for C++ programmers.

Re:change emphasis away from specifics (1)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 6 years ago | (#24158171)

the problem with a lot of "Web Developers" is that a lot of them are from the graphics arts background. Especially in the flash arena. Most of my work these days is going in and putting out fires and fixing messes when graphics designers get over their heads. Typically I can come in with the right people and fix the situation.

That being said, I know plenty of programmers who are technically competent, but couldn't design their way out of a cardboard box when it comes to UI design or layout of a page. I can think of only about 4 people I know who are damn good in both arenas.

I certainly fall into the latter category. Technically, I can make things work, but make them look good, no thanks. That's why I work with graphics designers.

Honest question (4, Insightful)

GreatBunzinni (642500) | more than 6 years ago | (#24157553)

Is the state of the art really changing that fast or is it all a problem of "buzzword turbulence", if you will?

What's the crisis? (5, Funny)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 6 years ago | (#24157559)

Real programmers don't care what language they need to write applications in. They write them in C.

Re:What's the crisis? (2, Funny)

voltel (1323287) | more than 6 years ago | (#24157611)

Real programmers don't care what language they need to write applications in. They write them in C.

Nah, man. REAL programmers use assembly. :-)

Re:What's the crisis? (1)

pwnies (1034518) | more than 6 years ago | (#24157779)

Assembly? Psh... Assembly is for amateurs who can't write straight bytecode.

Re:What's the crisis? (4, Funny)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 6 years ago | (#24157921)

Bah. You sound like one of those soft newcomers who doesn't have a steady enough hand to use a magnetized needle! I suppose we should give you a monitor and keyboard next!

Re:What's the crisis? (1)

lateralus_1024 (583730) | more than 6 years ago | (#24158037)

Pfft...next you're going to tell me you require a production ready risc or cisc processor with documented registers/instructions and a predictable clock.

Re:What's the crisis? (4, Funny)

cparker15 (779546) | more than 6 years ago | (#24158077)

Excuse me, but REAL programmers use butterflies.

Re:What's the crisis? (1)

retupmoca (932711) | more than 6 years ago | (#24158081)

And you, apparently, are too young to remember how to make a butterfly flap its wings in just the right manner.

(Ref: http://xkcd.com/378/ [xkcd.com] )

Re:What's the crisis? (0, Redundant)

The_mad_linguist (1019680) | more than 6 years ago | (#24158083)

Excuse me, but real programmers use butterflies.

Re:What's the crisis? (1)

ncttrnl (773936) | more than 6 years ago | (#24157989)

Substitute "real programmers" for "Chuck Norris" and you could have a great internet joke.

Re:What's the crisis? (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 6 years ago | (#24158019)

That would never catch on.

Re:What's the crisis? (1)

MattW (97290) | more than 6 years ago | (#24158097)

What site do you think you're on? I think you mean Bruce Schneier.

Let's not forget.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24157581)

Increasingly, ad hoc projects and cobbled-together tools will give way to those that emphasize the values and methods of traditional software development, such as design patterns, code reuse, and refactorability

Buzz words.

Re:Let's not forget.. (1)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 6 years ago | (#24158031)

those might be buzz words, but they are real things companies use. I know my company uses change management and project management tools but the major open source CMS web technologies would not fit nicely into those schemes. Because too many things change too quickly.

Who decides we use "all PHP" from this point forward? Who decides PHPnuke over PostNuke or even Media Wiki. Who decides to use PEAR this week or CakePHP next week. What happens when we want to try Ruby on Rails? More important how do we document where all these pieces come from for security patches and update them when they are replaced with new technologies or forked for license reasons? Or do we roll our own?

MOST companies have very small, overworked IT staff. They get maybe 2 days a month to try "play" stuff out on Saturday. When projects come down they need results "yesterday" because typically IT is the last group to know a project needs computing resources... when the project is already late! Most IT managers are so busy they could care less about web technologies beyond the entrenched business ones. When you start throwing out ideas of mashups with current intra- and inter- net sites and allowing mobile users to phone in for plant data from the airport their heads explode... who knows all that stuff or even where to start? How would you even write a job description?

This is why we're stuck with Microsoft's awful tools because they do a better job of marketing to the bosses WHY they might need a project and offer a "canned" solution you can put in a job description. How do we make regular PHBs aware of what can be done.. and be able to find employees to deliver?

I gave up (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24157601)

<marquis>HTML PROGRAMMERS WANTED</marquis>

Re:I gave up (4, Funny)

Nibbler999 (1101055) | more than 6 years ago | (#24157713)

Sadist.

My Problem With Web Development (3, Interesting)

geoffrobinson (109879) | more than 6 years ago | (#24157605)

Recently, I had the opportunity to get back into doing some internal web development after years of not doing much web work.

My issue is sorting out all the new technologies that have come out since then. I don't have time to learn them all before I pick one.

I think I'm going with Ruby on Rails, but I have no idea if this is the best choice. I hear good things. You go by word of mouth.

Re:My Problem With Web Development (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24158023)

I think I'm going with Ruby on Rails, but I have no idea if this is the best choice.

Good grief!

Opera Web Standards Curriculum (0)

Tangent128 (1112197) | more than 6 years ago | (#24157629)

Funny... I was just about to submit this [opera.com] to the Firehose. (PR-Speak Warning; skip to this [opera.com] if need be.)

Re:Opera Web Standards Curriculum (1)

Demiansmark (927787) | more than 6 years ago | (#24157833)

Funny... I was just about to submit this [opera.com] to the Firehose. (PR-Speak Warning; skip to this [opera.com] if need be.)

The above links are to Opera's web standards curriculum.

Not really sure this is relevant. Even though, what exactly is included within 'web development' is open to debate, when you're talking about the dizzying rate of change and new technologies I don't think you're referring XHTML/CSS and the basics of information architecture (whatever that is).

Sure there are advances and changes in those basic technologies but it's fairly slow due to reliance on browser support and standards organizations.

Not really, honestly (2, Funny)

stonecypher (118140) | more than 6 years ago | (#24157643)

Real engineers can work in any language. ... except Java.

Re:Not really, honestly (1)

SomeJoel (1061138) | more than 6 years ago | (#24157693)

It's true, being paid to code in Java isn't "work" at all!

Re:Not really, honestly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24157837)

A programmer having to code in Java or VB is kind of like being a sports reporter assigned to cover Alex Rodriguez.

Re:Not really, honestly (1)

lateralus_1024 (583730) | more than 6 years ago | (#24158069)

*sigh of relief* For a second there I thought you were going to lump us C-Pound developers in that unsavory group ;)

The Real Problem (1)

cromar (1103585) | more than 6 years ago | (#24157651)

The real problem is that OS technology has remained relatively stagnant for the past ~25 years, not that web development is showing "too much" innovation.

Take a look at all the new websites that have become so popular. Sites such as MySpace, Facebook, Flickr, etc. (in many ways) combine traditional "applications" into one UI that is more fluid, integrated, and responsive to its users' needs than any traditional UI/OS.

Re:The Real Problem (3, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 6 years ago | (#24157841)

Traditional web applications are like the mainframe applications of yesteryear. They're very form/request-oriented, and they're not necessarily meant to be particularly responsive (although in some ways, web form apps can be the most responsive) but instead they're meant to enable to allow a lot of people to work with the same data at once. And they can be assembled from baling wire and chewing gum...

Re:The Real Problem (1)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 6 years ago | (#24157843)

Really now, what do you expect from your OS? It's a foundation that you build on - the last big thing has been the ability to virtualize (like with mainframes), but aside from that, it's been stable, and that's a good thing.

Re:The Real Problem (1)

cromar (1103585) | more than 6 years ago | (#24158243)

I completely agree, and it would be far worse to have an unstable OS/UI. I guess what I mean though is on, say, Facebook, one can write "emails," chat, blog, twitter, plan events, play games, etc. all from a handy, streamlined UI. And while desktops have had applications to perform all of these tasks, the UI does not allow you to have as much freedom or control. Wouldn't it be great if the desktop UIs were more streamlined and allowed different, actual applications to be presented in a way similar to Facebook? (As a starting point, certainly Facebook's UI has many shortcomings.)

One of the things that seems to confuse average users and clutter the UI is context switching, which happens to a far less extent on these mainframe like interfaces. Now, if we could take the mainframe out of it, present it in a similarly clean way, and combine it with the power of client side executables, we would have a huge leap forward in desktop UI design - and a whole lot less of a mess than people creating multiple custom UIs on top of browsers on top of outdated UIs on top of desktop OSs!

quit whining (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24157673)

Web development has been like this from the beginning. Or at least since 1996 when I started paying attention. There were hundreds of competing technologies, programming languages (both interpreted and compiled), APIs, IDEs, protocols, and plugin frameworks back then, and there are hundreds if not thousands now.

Of course no team can master, support, or manage more than a small fraction of those, so there is a continuous shakeout. Then the battlefield clears up some, until the next fad or wave comes along, with dozens of new startups in its wake.

Wah my finger hurts.... (1, Informative)

Steveftoth (78419) | more than 6 years ago | (#24157685)

how is this a new observation? The web has always been a mess. It's forever in some sort of alpha/experimental state with no real standard as to what technologies to use. There are security holes all the time that need to be fixed, bugs in browsers that make developers split their resources to handle multiple browsers.

And that's how we likes it. The web's craziness is also it's strength. It's really quite amazing what has been done on the web, considering that it works pretty much the same whether you are on a Windows, Mac, BeOS, Amiga, x86, PowerPC, ARM, or what have you. You can even fire up an old version of netscape and have lots of the web still work.

I don't think that less choice in technologies is a good thing for anyone, it won't reduce cost of development. It won't make it easier to learn how to program for the web. It won't increase the number of good web programmers. The more ways that we have to build web applications the better.

your technical requirements eliminate candidates (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24157697)

because you are a moron.

if someone was building a house, they would hire carpenters.
if someone was building a gigantic stadium, they would hire welders.

they wouldnt hire somebody 'who has experience with ryobi chop saws and drills' or 'must have 10 years experience with fiberglass hammers'. you would assume the person could figure out that a fiber glass hammer is not a big deal compared to a wooden hammer or a plastic hammer, and a ryobi chop saw works pretty much like every other damn chop saw.

then again, if you were in the building trades, you wouldnt call yourself an 'engineer' just because you can do amazing things with a crane or a nail gun.

Re:your technical requirements eliminate candidate (1)

sohp (22984) | more than 6 years ago | (#24157803)

MOD PARENT UP

5 4 3 2 1 POST!

Re:your technical requirements eliminate candidate (2, Interesting)

mweather (1089505) | more than 6 years ago | (#24157835)

So you're equating A fiberglass hammer vs a wooden hammer with Ruby on Rails vs Django? Maybe if using the fiberglass hammer required that the user speak English while the wooden one required Spanish. A better analogy would be asking Kanye West to write you a hit rap song in Sanskrit. Not. Gonna. Happen.

somehow the mexican building crews manage (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24158079)

unfortunately, it would seem that the 'smart computer geek' people cannot bear the thought of multi-linguistics, be it human or machine language, while jorje with a high school education from guadalajara has been able to learn a few words of english, become a foreman, and probably built the building you are sitting in. why? because he is smart and he picked up the important bits, and whoever is his boss is able to realize that and work around the language barrier.

as for kanye west... if christina aguilera, shakira, celene dione, and dozens of other singers can have hits in multiple languages,, then, yeah, he might be able to do it.

Re:your technical requirements eliminate candidate (3, Funny)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 6 years ago | (#24158111)

Yeah, he'd just rap on top of some guy reciting the RigVeda or something.

Sillyness (2, Interesting)

porkThreeWays (895269) | more than 6 years ago | (#24157701)

As many libraries there are for the web, there are still ten times as many GUI toolkits for traditional GUI's. Oh, then operating systems, platforms, virtual machines, etc, etc. The whole blog is silly. As complicated as web programming has become, it's still many times simpler than trying to create a gui in almost any other language (without an IDE).

Re:Sillyness (3, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 6 years ago | (#24157855)

There's not too many GUI toolkits that need to be taken seriously any more. One for mac, one for windows, three for Unix :) And the Unix ones all work on mac and windows... Food for thought for those unused to such fare.

boo whaa (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24157739)

Boo Whaa, I only know how to work on horse drawn wagons. How will I ever keep up with bicycles, automobiles, motorcycles, aeroplanes, jets, rockets, ram jets, scram jets, what every the next weeks propulsion choice is.

There is fragmentation because there is choice possible. There is fragmentation because people want to use this or that new thing. It is a lot better than stagnation. We are testing new ideas constantly. Good ideas get adopted by the originating community, and even by competing projects. Eventually you will be able to do the same things in most the environments.

How to get around the crisis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24157755)

Better salary. Personally I live in an area where average programmer's salary is ca. 2500 euros/month. It's very little, and the companies are whining about being unable to find workers. Duh. Offer 10 000 euros/month and I'll start actually working too :-D

It's all about demand and supply, and how much companies are willing to pay.

My very recent experience in hiring a web dev (5, Interesting)

Rurik (113882) | more than 6 years ago | (#24157831)

My organization just started a unique online system, which was custom written by a vendor. The software is all PHP with a Linux/MySQL backend, and uses OSS software throughout. I took the reins to get the system up and running, but now, for the first time, we started looking for a dedicated web developer to publish works to this site, work on troubleshooting, and work with the vendor to design modifications to it. We went through over a dozen interviews over the past few weeks. It was bloody awful.

My (admittedly high) goals was a web developer that new PHP, could work with Linux (SSH), and had very basic client-side programming (C, Perl, whatever) to develop more tools for us down the road. Oh, and someone that could do some graphic art work would be a definite value-add.

Every single person that came in was an mainly ASP or ASP.NET programmer. Only two had Linux experience. Three or four had Photoshop experience. As a programmer myself, I ventured to the hopeful candidates on what languages they would like to learn next, or what skills they want to improve upon. Across the board, they were all happy staying with ASP, didn't want to learn PHP, and some inquired into when we would want to move from PHP to ASP. I had intentionally kept the field open to non-PHP people to try and find a true programmer that just didn't have those letters on their resume, but the majority were sticking themselves to a single language.

When all was said and done, we hired someone. He didn't know Linux, and didn't know PHP, but he was a definite "Active Learner [wikipedia.org] ". He was self-taught in nearly everything he knew, and was willing to learn any language we needed him to learn. He was one of the two candidates that had expressively mentioned that programming was just picking up a language and using it; all the rest were ASP specialists and thought that using another language wasn't worth their investment.

Re:My very recent experience in hiring a web dev (0)

Shados (741919) | more than 6 years ago | (#24158017)

as an asp.net programmer, I'll tell you that if I get offered a non-ASP.NET job (assuming I don't get hit with a huge pay cut for not having as much experience in another language), I'll happily learn anything, as long as its not PERL/PHP (perl is sweet, but not for web development).

After you go RoR/ASP.NET/Java/Whatever, you seriously don't want to go back (there are exceptions of course, many many on this site, but yeah). Whenever I get asked if, even as part of a primary asp.net job, I'd want to do some PHP on the side, my answer is systematically "Anything BUT php". And with the totally -insane- demand for asp.net devs right now, there's literally no reason for me to do things otherwise.

I still keep my skillset a bit broader for the inevitable ASP.NET crash, but php is just a no no, and 99% of the asp.net devs I know feel that way. It isn't so much not wanting to learn something else, but asp.net/java get the job done, so if I'm going to learn something new, it has to be a step forward... Python, Ruby, stuff like Flex, etc, fits the bill of at least being as good (if not better), but I'm not going backward, no thank you.

Re:My very recent experience in hiring a web dev (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24158149)

Jeez, who woulda believed it's that bad!

First Visual Basic and now ASP.net. Microsoft ruins another generation of programmers!

Sounds like you did exactly the right thing. I'm a lot like your new hire - self-taught in my current profession (RF/Microwave/Avionics electronic test equipment calibration) as well as my programming hobby/sideline. I run linux servers at home and at work, and built a web interface to our production MS SQL-Server database at work using LAMP technologies (MS-SQL copied/translated to a MySQL database on the web-facing linux server to protect the production server).

I'm looking into changing jobs right now. I guess I should check into LAMP jobs, since there seems to be a supply/demand ratio in my favor.

Re:My very recent experience in hiring a web dev (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24158175)

Let me edit your post for you.

"My company wanted to hire someone with mad web skilz but we weren't willing to pay to have that person sit on their butt and surf until I actually knew what I was doing. So we hired the president's nephew."

There, fixed that for you.

Re:My very recent experience in hiring a web dev (3, Interesting)

TheMCP (121589) | more than 6 years ago | (#24158189)

I wish I'd met you in some of my job interviews. I've found that in general, admitting to an employer that I don't already know everything about the language and have 20 Fortune 500 sites to show for it is the kiss of death.

When I hire technical people, I look for them to have some knowledge relationship to what we're doing (for example, when I was hiring a DBA to manage a sybase system, I didn't care if we got Oracle applicants, as long as they knew a little SQL), and I look for relatively junior people. I find when I hire senior people they tend to tell me everything will be fine, but then when they actually start work they want to throw out all my work so they can redo it with their pet technologies, while junior people will let me train them up to do it my way. And my way works for me. And junior people cost less.

There are relatively few programmers (or, for that matter, managers) who understand that a good programmer can just pick up the required technologies and deal with it, rather than having to hire specialists for every stupid language and format.

I've long since understood that the way to make money as a web developer is to get certified on the latest drivel that comes out of Microsoft, no matter how bad it is, and get jobs doing it. If you instead determine what is the best technology for each client/employer and use it, you'll get marginalized.

Re:My very recent experience in hiring a web dev (1)

John.P.Jones (601028) | more than 6 years ago | (#24158229)

I don't know whether to blame them for attending an interview for a job they had no interest in doing or you for not specifying that you needed a PHP developer (or trainee).

The problem is that if you say you need a PHP programmer, HR will only match you with people who list PHP on the resume, and they will only list it on their resume if they know it. But if you don't then HR will not know to include that PHP on the job ad so people who don't know PHP can apply (you want this) but so will people who don't want to learn (you don't want this). What is needed is to list both a summary of what the job entails and what your requirements are of applicants. These are two different things. One is selling your job the other is listing the cost. Ideally these would be the same but it is seldom the case.

A perspective applicant needs to know both whether they meet the requirements and whether they are interested in the work before applying. Otherwise you will miss just as many good applicants as you get bad ones.

Re:My very recent experience in hiring a web dev (1)

ivanmarsh (634711) | more than 6 years ago | (#24158235)

That's the cool thing about PHP... anyone with experience with any other decent programming language can pick it up in an afternoon and be relativly profecient in a few weeks.

Re:My very recent experience in hiring a web dev (1)

SixDimensionalArray (604334) | more than 6 years ago | (#24158237)

"When all was said and done, we hired someone... He was one of the two candidates that had expressively mentioned that programming was just picking up a language and using it".

IMHO, you got very lucky to find someone like this. I work for a company that is currently exclusively using C# and ASP.NET 2.0 by choice, but to be honest with you, in any situation, "REAL" programmers understand that you choose the right tool for the job, and can program in/learn any language. We chose .NET for various reasons based on our software environment, but by no means believe it to be the only tool available, and have no issue using any tool in particular - they are all just tools used to accomplish a goal!

I think it's ironic that in my company's interviewing/hiring, I find a majority of C#/ASP.NET 2.0 developer applicants are actually below average coders with inflated resumes (although there are a few good ones from time to time). These applicants often believe .NET is great and don't care about anything else but don't understand basic programming concepts or the willingness to learn or try new things. Some of that is because producing simple applications in ASP.NET can be so simple, people often believe they are "programming" when in reality, much of the work is drag and drop connect the dots (which sometimes IS good enough for some projects). We have found it much harder to find those "active learners" - they often tend to be new graduates, developers who are generally well-rounded, or people with a passion for learning/exploring in the development world.

My hunch is, there certainly must be a few of those kind in the Slashdot crowd! :)

-6D

My secret... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24157839)

I open up MS-Word. Type things in, move things around, paint borders, etc. etc.
then I...
File-->Save As...
web page

Ta Da! I'm a web designer

He's kidding, right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24157851)

OK, I admit I didn't RTFA, but going off the fine /. summary, this seems silly.

Recruiting talent for a Web project when your technology requirements eliminate most of the applicants is another.

Web programming is not that hard, and there isn't that much difference between the various tools. You've basically got html/css/javascript (common to all browsers), a scripting language for the webserver, and usually a database backend. Either one can perform this type of programming, or one can't. It really shouldn't matter what toolset is specified, once the basic skills are acquired, migrating to an unfamiliar toolset should be trivial. If "technology requirements eliminate most of the applicants", then I say those applicants were not very good to begin with, and you're probably better off.

I've never been a professional software developer, it's a hobby for me. I taught myself LAMP programming from web tutorials in no time. I was amazed at how easy and powerful it is. I can't believe professionals who do this every day would have such a hard time adapting to toolsets.

Re:He's kidding, right? (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 6 years ago | (#24158071)

I can't believe professionals who do this every day would have such a hard time adapting to toolsets.

They don't. But just because somebody's getting paid to code web pages doesn't make them a professional web designer. There's a lot of one-trick-pony webmonkeys out there calling themselves "professional web designers," and it sounds as if whoever wrote TFA ran across most of them.

H1B visas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24157863)

they're what's for dinner!!

Crikey - Big Discounts (5, Insightful)

turgid (580780) | more than 6 years ago | (#24157869)

Web development is such a dead-end job. Most web sites are by kids, imbeciles and graphic designers who fancy themselves as coders. Trying to maintain or develop their code is soul-destroying.

The next time you try to use a small business web site to buy something, do yourself a favour and look at the page source.

If your details aren't being sent out over the intartubes unecrypted, and if you still want to make the "purchase" you might see a way to pay nothing, or bare minimum with a discount.

Scotland is a good place to start looking.

Re:Crikey - Big Discounts (2, Insightful)

carps (1140441) | more than 6 years ago | (#24158203)

The next time you try to use a small business web site to buy something, do yourself a favour and look at the page source.
If your details aren't being sent out over the intartubes unecrypted, and if you still want to make the "purchase" you might see a way to pay nothing, or bare minimum with a discount.

Also, the next time you see an old person, do yourself a favor and check out at how fragile and weak they are!

If it is dark or you are wearing a hoodie, and if you want to "earn" a few bucks, you just might think of a way to do that

Old people are stupid for carrying money when they have such feeble self-defense skills.

This is nothing new. (1)

Richard Steiner (1585) | more than 6 years ago | (#24157877)

The same thing has been happening in the general software development world for 20+ years. :-(

Too much to keep track of (4, Insightful)

Infamous Tim (513490) | more than 6 years ago | (#24157905)

I've run into this very thing before in trying to decide what to study. There are so many different web languages, each of which come with their own toolsets and frameworks. How are we expected to keep up with it all? I don't want to commit to a language or technology that might easily be eclipsed within 2-3 years.

My biggest concern is the amount of time required just to keep up with the Jonses. How much time can I siphon away from paying work on php to learn about rails or django? What about the X number of new Ajax toolkits that have recently emerged, or some supposedly fantastic deployment set? I think of how fast javascript has accelerated since 2005 from digraceful reject to shining star, and it truly terrifies me how little I know of it. I'm used to mastering a language, understanding its uses and differences from others, then applying it towards the future. Do I have time to do that any more?

In the end, I came to the conclusion that I would just study Java and its ilk, because it seems to have made major inroads in enterprise applications and it's free-ish. That's good enough for me, and it bodes well for long term stability.

Ouch (3, Insightful)

ShawnCplus (1083617) | more than 6 years ago | (#24157933)

If you lower the hurdle that much then raise it suddenly, more than a few people are going to bash their faces in. The barrier to entry being so low is what causes the lack of good developers, people plateau too quickly, few excel.

I can't agree more (1)

jaykali (1207794) | more than 6 years ago | (#24157945)

I can't agree more that the low bar for entry into the web development world allows for much fragmentation. There's a lot of crappy code out there by ppl who should not be coding. However a lot of more creative minds have been able to contribute in recent years, I think your ruby on rails type frameworks and whatnot have demonstrated that. I think we need to rally around more existing technology and rely less on trying to create the next new thing from scratch. And I think we're going that way.

.NET, J2EE, LAMP (3, Insightful)

c0d3r (156687) | more than 6 years ago | (#24157953)

Right now .NET, J2EE, LAMP seem to be the key 3 divisions in the field. Whats really pissing me off is I was recently interviewing, and I was getting people wanting 1 years experience in .NET 3.5 which has only be released for a few months, and I was getting all these interview questions about brand new stuff that no one has done. J2EE is basically Weblogic jobs. LAMP doesn't seem to have much steam in the Enterprise, but mostly for small companies or small applications. Also I've been getting all kinds of screenings from people who don't know what they are talking about. Nowadays the trend seems to be how fancy of an AJAX UI can you create, barring the obvious difficulties of cross platform development and support for older browsers. I can see whats going to happen: many projects are going to fail because AJAX applications are very difficult to develop for a huge audience and reliably and requires much more skill than just html.

Give me .asp or give me death (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24157971)

This is true for web and software and anything else tech related. I see it all the time. We try to aim for a mix of must have skills so that we can maintain the clients/projects that we already have but also try to find new ideas and people willing to do something other than dream up crap that is impossible to build effectively. What we find is often one or the other. Either the candidate is great at the older web development criteria or they don't know shit about the basics and want to just into only the new cool stuff. The result: half of a team that is hardcore old school and half that is only about new- and it blows.

  I am a firm believer that people in the field must try to embrace both. For example, if you are new to the industry, you can no longer expect to just pick one code base and use that for the rest of your career. It doesn't work that way - it never has. The best of the best diversify, understand the concept and can use that across any language. They know that the language of choice today is not going to be the language of choice in a few years.
They know that the hot language today will work its way into the mainstream at some point and something else will take its place for the buzz of the day...

Experienced developers are just as bad sometimes. "Give me .asp or give me death" is a great way to paint yourself into a corner and out of a job. The best of the best know a few primary languages deeply, understand the working ins and outs of a lot more, and have just enough of everything else. They don't lock themselves in a closet and refuse to work unless it's in some obsolete language.

Now if you will excuse me, I have Fortran guys to coax out of the closet and Flex guys to push off of a roof.

Partly self-fulfilling problem (1)

coyote-san (38515) | more than 6 years ago | (#24158021)

This is partly a self-fulfilling problem. The developers and low-level management always have to keep their next job in mind, so they have an incentive to pad their resume with skills that their competition won't have. So they embrace new technology for the sake of embracing new technology, and that in turn brings in candidates who might not be very strong in the fundamentals but have/want these skills. Lather, rinse, repeat, and you have an explosion of "just because it's different" technology.

At the same time, there -is- legitimate change. It just takes longer and is only revolutionary in one aspect. With small/mid-scale J2EE, it was introduction of parameterized classes in Java 1.5, the introduction of Spring (dependency injection!), the widespread adoptation of maven for dependency management. A lot of us wouldn't have recognized our current environment three years ago, even though it's the same language and (mostly) the same libraries.

A good question is what's different in the two worlds. I think it's partly the environment, whether your user base is in the thousands or hundreds of thousands. The latter makes you a bit more conservative.

Web developer here. (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 6 years ago | (#24158045)

full time.

in a flourishing field, the diversification and resulting specialization is inevitable. its not only healthy but also the natural process. happened in every field we invented as mankind.

the problem of finding the 'skillset' to match your needs is a result of vendors. they shove stuff to businesses, businesses get locked in to some new, unestablished, or old and rare, unpopular (on the web) stuff, and finding someone to fit exact set to match it and the web stuff becomes a horror.

and then there are hilarious people who are looking for absurd skillsets like 'expertise in php, ajax, javascript, server side java, html4, css, linux scripting and an understanding of web design'.

thats like looking for a 'gay catholic fetishist astronaut with an mechanical engineering license and fluent in english, german, arabic, icelandic and sanskrit'.

what i see is l.a.m.p. field is flourishing. it is going so well that despite hordes of developers almost constantly come into the scene, most of them (reliability is paramount) finds jobs. this kinda means that the demand is also following the supply i guess. some of the scripts on lamp platform has become their own expertise fields. an example is oscommerce programming (thats a most commonly used job ad). its not unnatural though. most of the i.t. and business software we use were written on C, yet, the programs ended up being expertise fields in themselves in the 90s and they still are.

The problem is even worse when you add HR people (3, Insightful)

betelgeuse68 (230611) | more than 6 years ago | (#24158053)

Since they only match acronyms and can't discriminate from a person capable of easily assimilating new technologies vs. someone can't can't and/or is very inexperienced.

More acronyms = more HR inefficiency.

-M

Employers Don't Understand (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24158057)

This has been a problem of mine as of recently as I have been looking for a web developer/design position. A lot of these so called "requirements" for jobs specifically state that a certain field is required in order to even begin to be considered as for the job.

Anyone worth their weight in gold should be able to pick up and learn a new language very quickly. It shouldn't matter what it is as long as the application has shown applications previously across several languages and willingness to adopt a new language if so needed. I try to explain that I am mostly self taught, and at college we were taught to learn the general concepts of programming THEN apply them to a language but quickly get swept under the rug because I don't already know their language.

While it's certainly not a bad thing to specialize in a language, it should not be a hindering point to learn something new. Now if I could only convince potential employers of that...

Flash Before Function? (1)

f2x (1168695) | more than 6 years ago | (#24158153)

I hate to sound like an old fart, but the trend seems to be throwing in more and more features to the point that the "nift" value exceeds the actual "content" being presented. In the end, the site becomes so painfully quixotic that no mere mortal could maintain it. Now when it breaks, you need a complete overhaul, and of course the "vision guy" in marketing wants everything including the kitchen sink installed on the site. For some odd reason, I wouldn't want to work for a jerk like that, and I'm not sure anyone else would either.

Of course the other aspect may be that there are a lot of prima donnas out there who believe their "talents" are being wasted on the boring/mundane, and will refuse to take a job that doesn't have a the springboard potential to stardom. Hence, you have a bunch of people out there who are calling themselves "web developers", but somehow always appear somewhat "under-employed".

There's also the "DIY" crowd that later goes on to discover they lack the technical know how to adequately keep up with their projects, only to be horribly abused by charlatans posing as web developers who toss in a bunch of glitter-gifs and JavaScript, then take off leaving the site owner with a the painfully quixotic nightmare mentioned above.

So where does one look to find a reputable freelance web developer anyway?

Huh? (4, Insightful)

silentrob (115677) | more than 6 years ago | (#24158191)

Always kinda blew my mind when people get anal about specific technologies.

Do I know JavaEE? PHP? Ajax?

Doesn't matter.

Why?

Because I know programming. WTF does that mean? It means that language/technology is irrelevant because it takes me a matter of days to pick up on new languages/technologies.

Anyone who touts a single language as some kind of achievement is fucking pathetic.

FLAME ON!

I.T. people have been dealing with that for years (1)

ivanmarsh (634711) | more than 6 years ago | (#24158195)

Suck it up.

Experience shouldn't be heavily counted (1)

stwf (108002) | more than 6 years ago | (#24158205)

This argument may be important in a theoretical sense, but not so much a practical one.

I suppose if I had tons of money and needed a state of the art app in record time, I would look for only experienced programmers. But in a competitive environment we need more efficient ways ramping up.

Once you've determined there is no one with your exact qualifications, just make sure you hire smart people who love to code, the experience will come.

In truth you might end up getting some better solutions as you won't have a herd of programmers who all believe the same "givens" about development.

Of course this requires full time employees and a patient approach, since hiring contract workers just means you are paying them to learn and then not reaping the benefits. Many companys don't understand that good code takes time.

As we used to say: "The code can be done well, the code can be done quickly, the code can be done cheaply. Pick any two!"

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