From:  jim hopper <[log in to unmask]>

> [...] If all the kids
> in university are learning is how to use visual basic to do visually
> stunning, but irrelevant programs (mind candy) than we are indeed in
> big trouble.  how does a person make the jump from a dependence on
> precanned libraries using such tools to the real world??  are we
> going to graduate an entire generation of university students who
> think programming should be that easy?   visual basic and other such
> tools it seems to me should be forbidden to cs students until they
> learn the fundamentals and how to do it the correct way.  how many
> bridges and buildings have fallen down around the world (and other
> catastrophes) because some engineer was just taught the formulas and
> not the basics of how the equations are derived, and where they are
> valid and where they are not.
> I already dispair over the younger people i work with today because
> they don't have any idea of what their code really does because they
> seldom are taught much of anything about assembly language and the
> guts of processors.  Now you are suggesting that and even more
> ignorant group are on their way, who think that writing a program is
> just a matter of sticking the proper libraries together!  Sounds a
> lot like the engineers who think that building a bigger bridge is
> just a matter of sticking the same old equations and designs together!

Read Ellen Ullman's article, "The Dumbing Down Of Programming":

(make sure you follow the "page 2 =>" and "Part 2 =>" links at the
bottom of the pages, or you won't get the full article...)

And even though it's not _directly_ related to this post, people
interested in these issues would probably also be interested in reading
Neal Stephenson's new book, "In The Beginning... Was The Command-Line".
Technically his analysis is a little off at a few points, but... this
book kicks butt!  It's a cheap little book, so go out and buy it now! :-)

Then you gotta read "The Limits of Software", by Robert N. Britcher.
Even though he has a crummy view of Ada, it's still a good book with some
deep insights about the software world.


Mark Lundquist
Senior Software Engineer
Rational Software
Development Solutions Business Unit
UNIX Suites Group
Aloha, OR, USA