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Strong opinions, weakly held

The value of experience

I’m working on a proof of concept Rails project. It’s a relatively simple application that will be a lot more complex down the road, and I need to decide whether it makes sense to write it (and perhaps subsequent applications that are related) in Ruby on Rails, or whether I should write them with the usual stack that I’m more familiar with: Java, Spring, Hibernate, Tomcat, etc.

While I really like the ease of getting things up and running with Rails, I’m reminded frequently of the value of experience. When something isn’t working right in a Rails application, I have no idea what I need to do to fix it. Five plus years of coding in Java means that I at least know where to start looking when things break. In Rails, I’m clueless, and the framework does a lot of stuff somewhat magically, so popping the hood is that much harder.

This isn’t to say that Java is better than Rails, but rather that lots of experience is better than none.

1 Comment

  1. No doubt. But it’s also dangerous. In the business litterature, it’s called “the competency trap”. The desire to try out better, more productive alternatives is much less amongst those with expertise in older approaches. And naturally so.

    If the old approach has a productivity rating of 80, then the promised 160 of a new approach has a hard time appealing if you have to stay at 40 for a while before you can make the leap.

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