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Joel on Software

2001/06/24

by Joel Spolsky
Friday, June 22, 2001

I first worked with Adam Bosworth when he was designing Microsoft Access, and I was designing the application programmability strategy that became VBA. He is an incredibly fast thinker and incessantly right. Unlike most fast-thinkers who are always right, he also knows how to listen, and if he discovers he was wrong (as he did within one hour in 1992 when I convinced him that macro languages needed to be object-oriented), he'll change his mind without emotional attachment to his old ideas. Adam set a better example for the role of Program Manager than anyone I'd ever met.

Adam has designed and shipped more world-shaping software than anyone else I can think of. Borland's old Reflex relational database. Microsoft Access. ODBC. Internet Explorer's "Trident" editor and document object model. Soap. XML. Now a new company called Crossgain is in the works.

And I'm not exaggerating when I say that one of the goals of my own company, Fog Creek Software, is to create a place where we stood a snowflake's chance in hell of getting superstars like Adam Bosworth to work. It's an ambitious goal and it's going to take a few years, but I'm confident we'll do it.

In the meantime, anybody working in the software industry needs to listen to Adam, attentively. When he talks about n-tier architectures, read every word he says. If you can't follow it, ask someone to explain it to you. If he drops an acronym like WSDL that you don't understand, study it so you don't miss his points. Understand why all the six hundred demos you've seen of a SOAP service that returns stock quotes are unrealistically simplistic and don't scale up to the real world. After you read that article, think about how the fact that it's almost impossible to display a progress indicator in a web browser while the server does some 2 minute task came as close to killing the entire online travel-agency industry as Nikita Khrushchev came to destroying the world by putting missiles in Cuba.

As usual Adam is incredibly right, and he's high-bandwidth, and if you can't follow what he's saying, don't apply for a job at Fog Creek!

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