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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Feeling Clumsy

In general, I feel like a moderately clumsy guy. With the exceptions of Aikido and tennis (actually racquet sports in general), I'm not particularly good at anything resembling a sport. In school, mental activities were my forte: quiz bowl, Math Counts, drama, public speaking -- I was agile in those fields.

I think that's why Scott Bellware's post today struck a chord with me: Visual Studio doesn't make me feel agile. I'm sure there are people doing agile development with Visual Studio and .NET, I just seldom feel like one of them. (Disclaimer: I haven't gotten to try VS 2005 yet.)

At the most basic level, it seem like probably 20% of the development problems I deal with on a day-to-day basis are problems with the IDE. If I'm dealing with a bug or build error that I just can't figure out after 10-15 minutes, restarting Visual Studio fixes it nearly every time, although occassionally it takes multiple restarts. Not being able to trust your tools is really tiring.

On a higher level, though, it's just really hard to provide and receive feedback sometimes. What I want is to be able to sit down with a user, show them a working version, get their feedback, then implement their suggestions right then (at least the simpler ones). I don't want them to have to wait a week or more for a new build and installer, and I don't want to have to wait at least that long to see if I'm building what they want.

I really want to be an agile developer, in every sense of the word.

To me, development is an extension of mental activity, a physical manifestation of my thoughts. Thinking is what I've always been good at, though, and it's the only realm in which I feel agile, so tools that interfere with that are incredibly frustrating. After a while, I start to wonder if some development tools aren't some kind of Harrison Bergeron-style plot to enforce equality, then I have to wonder why that might be.

I still haven't installed my copy of Visual Studio 2005, so I'm hopeful that the IDE update and .NET 2.0 assuage some of my frustrations...but I won't be surprised to be disappointed.

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