So unemployment is better than becoming a SharePoint developer? Really?
This is something that's been fermenting inside for awhile, and a comment on a blog this week was enough to declare it ready for pouring.
As many of you probably know, I work at a company that decided to migrate off of Notes for both email and applications. Considering that's the company where I got started with Notes in 1996, and the birthplace of an incredible 15 years of professional development, it was hard to know that things were going to change. When you've spent that much time completely immersed in a technology, it's hard to start splitting time between that and something else... especially when the "something else" belongs to a company you long held as the evil empire... Microsoft.
I've spent the last 15 years going from "what is Notes?" to "this is cool" to "Notes is better than anything out there" to "Lotus is morally superior to Microsoft" to "Microsoft is evil and not to be trusted" to "hmmm... apparently the market is changing" to "let's get real... this is software, and we're professionals."
I still believe that Notes is an incredibly powerful tool, and that it is underappreciated and not fully understood by those who own it and by the market in general. I also believe that SharePoint and associated MS software is at the top of the hype cycle and can't possibly deliver everything that people think it will. That's pretty much the lifecycle of all new technologies, so nothing new there. It doesn't mean the technology is useless or evil, just that it's being applied to problems that it isn't well-suited to address.
But our emotional involvement with Lotus software (and Notes/Domino in particular) has caused many of us to assign moral attributes to something that is really nothing more than 1's and 0's (as someone so succinctly reminded us this week). And what pushed me over the edge this week was a response to a particular blogger's statement about how and why he's not able to hug someone's Xpages tree. The response was that if we don't help our company understand Notes and make the migration to newer versions, we run the risk of becoming unemployed, or worse, enduring the pain of becoming SharePoint developers.
And hence the title of this blog entry. Are you really so arrogant to tell someone that it's better to be unemployed than to work with SharePoint? Have you even *worked* with SharePoint? Is your mind open enough to possibly consider that SharePoint has some... gasp... positive features?
Working with InfoPath forms being sent to SharePoint sites reminds me a lot of Notes. And there's something to be said for the wide array of controls you can use to make things happen. No, it's not exactly like Notes, but there are valid pros and cons on both sides. A competent professional could write some really nice applications on either platform, and an incompetent programmer could screw up quite well in either.
Yes, Microsoft has a history of changing and dropping features that you may have invested heavily in. If you're in the Lotus camp, you'd have to forget Garnet, eSuite, DB2, and composite applications to claim that's never happened to you. Microsoft has a great development environment. Lotus, not so much compared to something like Visual Studio. Microsoft invests heavily in documentation and support for their communities. Lotus would like you to add your information to their wikis. Microsoft even recognizes those in their communities who are considered experts in their particular technology niches. When we tried to get that started with Lotus a couple years back, IBM's first take on the program is that it would only be open to business partners...
In my perfect world, I'd continue working with Notes and companies would be knocking at my door trying to get me to work for them on their Notes applications. But the world's not perfect, and one has to adapt. I'm a professional software developer, not a professional Notes guy, and it's taken me awhile to figure that out.
There is no moral superiority in committing to Notes and choosing unemployment over working with SharePoint and putting food on the table. In fact, you might just find out that there's more out there in your professional life than you thought.