Dev of the Week: Anders Abel
- Code or Configuration or Configuration in Code?
- Sponge – the Mind of a Developer
- Can You Handle An Elite Performer?
Thanks for talking to us! What have you been working on lately?
I've spent the last 6 months upgrading a web application that Kentor (my company) wrote 10 years ago for a client. We're gradually introducing modern technologies, through a strategy where the old and new technologies can live side by side (see http://coding.abel.nu/2013/02/first-step-on-legacy-code-classifying/ ). A complete rewrite is neither feasible nor economically sound. Instead we're doing a step-by-step migration in which each step is driven by business requirements. New functionality is developed quicker on the new technology stack. Old functionality is moved over when users experience performance problems or a better user interface is required. Often a change in one place requires migrating a lot of code to clean up all the intertwined dependencies in the spaghetti code base.
Your blog is titled "Passion for Coding." What about programming makes you passionate about it?
When I first got your email with the questions, this one stood out. It's a question I've never asked myself, but that is nevertheless an important part of who I am. I had to think about it for several days before coming up with an answer.
To me programming/coding has always been a passion, while the job as a software developer with meetings and project administration is just a job. I can't explain why or how the passion for coding started - it's always been like that since I first tried programming. It was an instant love for the problem solving puzzle, the creativity required and the sense of power that the machine does what I want. While my friends played games I preferred the BASIC prompt and writing code. Unfortunately they got bored - I guess I was ahead of time with pair programming. Or maybe they were simply not interested in coding. They preferred the games, but to me programming is in many ways the ultimate strategy game where there are no limits except your own imagination.
Are there any particular developer tools or resources you couldn't live without?
One of the first things I install on a new Windows machine is Unxutils which gives the windows command prompt a huge boost, making it (nearly) equivalent to a standard *nix prompt. With graphical IDEs being the standard tool, the power of the command line has been forgotten. Basic small commands such as grep, sed, find and cut can be combined into powerful chains that reduce tedious tasks that would take hours in the GUI to a few minutes of work.
Do you have a favorite open source project (or projects) that you've contributed to recently?
No, unfortunately I'm not actively contributing to open source at the moment. My blog and Stack Overflow takes what little free time I have besides work and family.
Do you follow any blogs or Twitter feeds that you would recommend to developers?
I follow about 50 blogs/RSS feeds actively and quite a few people on Twitter. If I am to pick one to recommend it's without doubt Chris Alcock's The Morning Brew. He posts daily with the ~10 most important .NET links of the day, including small comments on the content. It's really a perfect size - it covers the most important, but is still possible to read every day even for a busy person. If I'm falling behind in the reading in my RSS reader I mark everything as read and ignore it - except The Morning Brew, because I know it will contain the most important links.
Did you have a coding first love -- a particular program, gadget, game, or language that set you on the path to life as a developer?
The first programming language I learned was BASIC (complete with line numbers). It was what got me started and I wrote tons of (bad) code in it.
Anything else you'd like to mention?
When I first started blogging I had no idea of how much learning for myself it would mean. For every single post I write I learn something new, either through research on previous work on the subject or by implementing working examples or by comments from readers. I've been an active participant at Stack Overflow for several years, but blogging is another step that I'm now very happy that I took. I would also like to thank DZone for helping me reach more people with my posts - giving me more valuable feedback from readers around the world. As long as you keep reading, I'll keep writing!