Via Marc‘s post, I came across ALT.NET and Scott Hanselman posing the question “Is Microsoft losing the Alpha Geeks?” Ayende has posted in a similar vein. I’d have preferred a few less capital letters, but ALT .NET is a reminder that tools are just that. If the tool starts to get in the way, or if there’s a better tool available it’s time to move on. The goal of your project is unlikely to be to gain expertise in a specific tool or technique – it’s more likely to be about delivering business value – working software that solves a real problem. The best tools, like Resharper, make you wonder how you coped without them. The worst tools make you spend weeks figuring out how to rewire the spodolifier so that the gubbinator doesn’t just produce bobbins.
Marc makes the point that decisions on what tools or techniques to use should be based against a set of guiding principles – themselves subject to reevaluation and change. This is a really important point. Often, these principles are unwritten. The trouble starts if they are not communicated and shared.
It’s good to see this thread – especially in the Microsoft development community, which, traditionally, hasn’t always taken it upon itself to look outside.