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   RE: [xml-dev] The Airplane Example (was Re: [xml-dev] Streaming XML)

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On Fri, 31 Dec 2004, Michael Kay wrote:

>> By the end of this century, I will be amazed if you will
>> still be able to call yourself a 'software engineer/progammer' without a
>> legally mandated certification, license and professional standards.
> Which doesn't solve the problem, because good programmers write bugs too.

But good programmers using good practices write orders of magnitude less 
bugs than bad programmers following no practices. We may not be able to 
eliminate 100% of software defects, but we _can_ improve what we are 
doing by quite a bit.

Remember you (and likely most of the people here) are atypical of 
programmers in general. You can't realize just how _poor_ the average 
programmer is until you've spent years trying to find _good_ programmers 
to hire. They are very rare in my experience.

> And the best software engineers have no idea how to prevent them.

I disagree. They don't know how to entirely prevent them, but they 
certainly know how to minimize them.

Lockheed-Martin took their software defects down by a factor of ten by 
implementing good development processes over a 5 year period up to 1991. 
Since 1992, they've knocked another factor of 5 off their defects. And 
they have increased their LOC/hour rate by a factor of five: More code, 
less errors.


They are obviously doing _something_ right. And doing so consistently, 
year after year. That is what I call software engineering.

> Worse still, no one knows how to objectively distinguish good programmers
> from bad programmers. Any such licensing mechanism is likely to descend into
> a "Microsoft-Certified" farce.

Maybe. Or it may rise to the level of the other licensed professions where 
you can be confident of a minimum level of competency. You don't usually 
wonder whether a doctor is qualified to be a doctor. The licensing system 
is good enough that that is not usually a problem. We need to reach that 
same level of confidence about the programming profession.

> Michael Kay
> P.S. Anyone can call themselves a progammer, and by the end of this century,
> standards of spelling will have descended to the level where no-one notices.


Benjamin Franz


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