[A picture of private offices at Fog Creek Software] Alert! This ancient trifle retrieved from the Joel on Software archive is well-past its expiration date. Proceed with care.

Joel on Software


by Joel Spolsky
Saturday, November 04, 2000

On Certification of Programmers

Steve McConnell, who has written at least one really good book on software engineering, wrote another book last year, called After the Gold Rush. Steve is very concerned with the "professionalism" of software engineers and the quality of their skills. The most controversial part of the new book is his call for some kind of official, government-type certification of programmers. His company's website is full of statements like: "When 'Professional Software Engineer' certification becomes available in Washington..." When, not if. Yikes.

Needless to say, he's not winning many friends with that idea. I would have written an essay about it, but Tom DeMarco has already done it much better than I could have. "Whatever the merits of certification, it has always been a big hit among those who get to do the certifying," he writes. "Certification is not something we implement for the benefit of the society but for the benefit of the certifiers." Read his short article, it's great, and then ask yourself this: Would 18-year-old Shawn Fanning, who wrote Napster and changed the world, have been certified?

Don't Buy "After the Gold Rush." It's wrong.

The new Robert Jordan book is about to ship. Buy that instead.

Have you been wondering about Distributed Version Control? It has been a huge productivity boon for us, so I wrote Hg Init, a Mercurial tutorial—check it out!

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About the author.

I’m Joel Spolsky, co-founder of Fog Creek Software, a New York company that proves that you can treat programmers well and still be highly profitable. Programmers get private offices, free lunch, and work 40 hours a week. Customers only pay for software if they’re delighted. We make Trello, easy web-based collaboration software, FogBugz, an enlightened bug tracking and software development tool, and Kiln, a distributed source control system that will blow your socks off. I’m also the co-founder and CEO of Stack Exchange. More about me.

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