OK, so I left a software development job 18 months ago, went into marketing, and decided to move on.
I guess its not to be - coding is just too much plain damn fun!
Anyways, after wandering thru PHP, Eealbasic, and a few other variations, I finally went back to the mothership when I downloaded Visual Studio Express VB, C# and SQL. Oh boy, am I glad I did. These new versions simply redefine the word productivity. I know the purists argue about the architecture, the dotNet philosophy - but happily I just code for fun :) so I don't worry about this stuff. I just know that I haven't had so much fun with a development environment in a long time.
Its interesting. The more things change the more they stay the same.
Visual Studio languages are JIT compiled - which is kind of midway between compiled and interpreted languages. We used to have interpreted languages to begin with (remember commodore 64 Basic anyone ?!). Then, in the interests of speed, compiled languages became the norm. Now, as hardware catches up, interpreted languages are catching up and the advantages they offered are bieng rediscovered - of course with the very latest techniques like JIT.
Another trip down the past is complexity - or the apparent lack of it. In the good old days, if you wanted to put some text on the screen and move around a few items to have a pleasing display, you just went ahead and did it - in a very few lines of code. Then along came Windows and with it, we had frameworks and memory management, and foundation classes (MFC anyone ?) so it took about a bizillion lines just to get a damn word on the screen.
Visual Studio '05 seems to have bridged the gap and taken us back to the good old days. By leaning on the objects in dotNet, it lets you build visual code in remarkably short preiods of time with very few lines of code - I think it can finally justify the "visual" in its name.
Its amazing how liberating that is.
Instead of worrying about "how", you can worry about "what" and "why". If you have an idea for an innovative interface - well, you just build it: you don't spend time scratching your head and wading thru reams of webpages looking for the hack that will let you do it.
Of course there is a price to pay in terms of the need to have to download the 21MB dotNet framework. And I've heard a lot of people complaining about it. I was skeptical myself. But I got to thinking, even if you develop a web-app, you need a 12-15 MB download to run it. That's right, the Browser! It just so happens that browsers are pervasive so you don't have to even think about it.
The real deal is: is your code worth running - if its really good - people will install dotNet or any other damn thing to run it - if its a piece of junk, people will not run it even in a browser.