random musings on software development and management

Tone is in your fingers

Every guitarist has heard the cliche before. Hand Eddie Van Halen, Jimmy Hendrix, SRV, or any other famous guitar hero can pick up your cheap guitar, plug it into your cheap amp, and they will still sound like the guitar hero they are. As they say, tone comes from the fingers not from the gear. This applies to software engineering as well.

Programming languages, databases, message brokers, and distributed memory caches are just gear. Just as Eric Johnson switches back and forth between his Gibson ES-335 and his Fender Strat, anyone claiming to take their craft seriously should be comfortable creating software with whatever gear happens to be available. Oracle, SQL Server, Postgresql, and MySQL are conceptually nearly identical. C# and Java are twins separated at birth. Perl, Ruby, and PHP are cousins. Serious software craftsmen don't need any specific gear to create software.

Of course, anyone who's ever played guitar knows that a Telecaster and a Les Paul produce unique sounds. If you've seen Jimmy Page playing live, you've probably seen him playing his Les Paul. As a result, he is generally known as a Les Paul guy. However, most early Led Zeppelin albums were recorded using a Telecaster. Jimmy didn't need his Les Paul to be Jimmy Page.

tags: architecture