Today I heard the famous words “Sorry I’m not a programmer” from the vendor of one of our new projects. But the guy was writing webservices for us. And he was doing it wrong in a dreadful way. And to make matters worse he wrote it all in VB.Net.

I had to tell him what an array was. I had to tell him what a property was. I had to tell him how to make a generic list. I had to tell him why it was a bad idea to return a System.Xml.XmlDocument in a webservice. And why did he use strings for everything? What happened to date and ints and complex types?

Nothing like such a thing to scare the living daylights out of me. Because I will have to use those services. I count on them to work as intended. I count on them to repair them if something goes belly up.

We are paying them for a good service and the least I can expect is a reasonable programmer that knows what he is doing.

Would you go the a garage where you know the mechanic knows nothing about your cars and needs your input to tell him where your sparkplugs are.

Is this because our industry has a lack of professionals? Is this because our industry makes it to easy to write bad code? Is this because we make RAD development possible without requiring the user of your tools to know what code they generate?

And you know what? Our managers are more than happy to pay them for their services, because the code does more or less what they ask for. And it’s the result that counts. And it might even come in on budget (for now).

It’s sad, very sad. But I guess things like that happen in every industry. Because all that matters is making money and staying within budget.