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Reg Reader Workshop The latest Reg Reader Workshop on Agile Development has got off to a flying start with some lively discussion of whether today’s developers are more creative than their counterparts of 20 years ago.

Quite a few angles and viewpoints have emerged, but there appears to be a feeling amongst the old timers in particular that creativity is sometimes misplaced within the younger generation:

“Nowadays there are masses of SDKs and APIs that do virtually all the heavy lifting, so developers can while away their days choosing between various sickening shades of colour and deciding how to lay out their Web pages so they look different from other people's. If you're a developer, that may seem creative. But ordinary users would prefer applications that are simple, easy to use, and reliable.”

And:

“Application developers [were] definitely more creative 20 yrs ago, I only had a few function keys or 4 letter menu codes in which to navigate, so my taxonomy had to be bang on (believe me, knowing the right way to describe something is just as important as what is actually does). Presentation of data in a logical format and grouping on 24 x 80 screens became an art in itself.”

Such feedback leads us onto our next workshop question of how to create a perfect working environment in which developers can get their creative juices flowing and enjoy what they are doing, but also produce results that are robust, maintainable and optimised for purpose – i.e. the stuff that pays the bills. One reader thought all this would require a bit of give and take:

“Whilst it flatters developers to make them feel individual, consistency of environment shows consideration for their fellow developers and a willingness to work as a team. Editors, PCs and toolsets that are 'their favourite' or customised to hell are a good sign of a diva in the making, or a set of code that no-one else can work on ... [conversely] ... Developers should be given an environment where they can finish components off to a satisfactory status before moving on to the next piece. Coding frenzies, late-night working, skipping tests and missing documentation should never be necessary if the timescale is properly managed. It's the manager's job to buffer their team from external pressures and let them get on with the job.”

Against this background we have constructed a short reader poll, and we’d love to get your views on the most critical things that need to be in place to create a modern, efficient and productive development environment. ®

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