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Who Are Your Role Models in Software Development?

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Recently I've been wondering who are the most popular role models in the software development industry. Just as with any other profession, it's important for developers to have role models. What I'd like to capture in this article, and through your comments,  is which personalities are admired most in the industry. To kick things off, I'll share my own role models with you. 

James Gosling

Any Java developer is bound to have James Gosling on their list of role models. Having left Oracle, a lot of people will be interested to see what he does next. But looking back on his career to date, he's done enough: a lot more than most of us could aspire to. 

Steve Jobs 

OK, Steve Jobs gets a hard time for his closed approach to development. But as a businessman and strategist, I can't think of anyone better. Under his direction, Apple has given the software industry the kickstart it needed. The app-economy is purely down to Apple and the iPhone.  I really respect his drive and ambition. Some will say he's too controlling, but I don't think that it's necessarily a bad thing. This commencement speech that Steve Jobs gave at Stanford is one of the most inspirational talks I've ever heard.

Rod Johnson 

In Expert One-on-One J2EE Design and Development, released back in 2002,  Rod Johnson outlined what was wrong with Java EE, and went one step futher by defining a framework that would solve these issues. 8 years later, his company, SpringSource has become one of the most significant players in the Java development space. And SpringSource keeps getting bigger and bigger, making frequent acquisitions as part of VMWare.

You have to admire that Johnson didn't just complain about enterprise Java, but that he brought about a solution that he believed in, and continued to make it a successful company.  Spring has been one of the most important parts of the Java landscape in the past decade, encouraging simplicity in place of overengineering. 


Now that you've seen a few of my choices, leave a comment here to share your list with us. Next week, I will compile a list of the most frequently mentioned personalities from the comments section.



Gabriel Axel replied on Wed, 2010/05/12 - 5:09am

The two people I feel affected my code most are Rod Johnson and Josh Bloch. Rod pushed for best practices in the higher levels of the code (working with POJOs, dependency injection and declarative AOP for example) and Josh pushed for best practices in the lower levels (immutability, reduced visibility, annotations and generics for example).

Gilbert Le Blanc replied on Wed, 2010/05/12 - 7:30am

Gerald Weinberg, for being one of the first authors to write extensively about the sociology of computer programming

Jakob Nielsen for his work in user interface usability.

Fred Brooks, for managing the development of IBM's OS/360 and for writing "The Mythical Man-Month".

Edgar F. Codd for developing the relational model tha's the basis for most relational databases.

Muhammad Sabir replied on Wed, 2010/05/12 - 9:18am

Brian Kernighan, Dennis Ritchie and Ken Thompson are three great people who gave us a C/Unix. They are my Role Models in my professional life.

Sean Sandy replied on Wed, 2010/05/12 - 10:56am

Ironic that it is two Java guys and one who hates Java...

Paul Holser replied on Wed, 2010/05/12 - 11:07am

Kent Beck, for introducing XP and xUnit. Almost single-handedly changed my perspective on how to create software I can be proud of.

Chris Treber replied on Wed, 2010/05/12 - 5:53pm

Tom DeMarco, because he is so right that most software problems are actually people problems, not technological issues. Every software professional (and, better even, their manager) should have read "Peopleware"...

Andrew Thompson replied on Thu, 2010/05/13 - 10:48pm

Josh Bloch was already mentioned.   But I'd add Martin Fowler here.   Personal opinion is steve jobs invented two things:

 - aluminum casing for computers

- how to strong arm telecoms into making things slightly less sucky in the mobile space.

Mohammad Juma replied on Sun, 2010/05/16 - 7:29am

Rod Johnson... He managed to think outside EJB box, He made J2EE Development much simpler.

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