Banazîr the Jedi Hobbit (banazir) wrote,
Banazîr the Jedi Hobbit

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Kids Today: Tronkie Tools and Nostalgia

Warning: Tronkie Overload

Why is it that students nowadays seem to care very little for performance monitoring and code inspection tools?

"Back in my day" (when I was first learning to program, 1983-1993, especially 1989-1993), we used a lot of:

  • make: I was given to understand (through an invited luncheon talk at the Atanasoff Symposium by John Gustafson of Sun Microsystems that knowing the compilation state of a program is a thing of the past. I momentarily resisted this notion, but I suppose it is true enough for mobile code and in the context of transparent, just-in-time compilation. That said, I don't think makefiles are obsolete, as development and runtime environments that do leave compilation to humans (e.g., gcc/g++ and CC) are not in the grave yet.
    A research supervisor of mine once told me not to use a compiler as a type-checker, i.e., to fix type errors and as a lazy person's lint. I think Borland/JBuilder project files and Eclipse class path transparency runs the risk of the same kind of oblivious mind-rot.

  • gprof: Whatever happened to code tuning? Jon Bentley famously dedicated at least one column of Programming Pearls (and a chapter in the first book) to performance profiling. Kids I talk to today tilt their heads, ponder a moment, aver that it might be a good idea, and they shrug when I ask what they use as profilers in Java. The more mature ones point me to an Eclipse plug-in (Omerta?) or other. What the trask?!

  • sdb/gdb: Similarly, as Elaine demanded on Seinfeld - "have you all gone mad?!" Metamata is the only Java symbolic debugger I hear of people using outside of Eclipse, Your Panacea of The Millenium (YRAINW).

OTOH, students nowadays are quite aware of source code repositories such as SourceForge and source code control systems. When I took C in 1990 and C++ in 1993, sccs and rcs were very nifty things. These days, kids are all using CVS and pserver. They grow up too fast. Children are messing around with relational databases such as mySQL using PHPmyAdmin. And they play their rock music so darn loud, it hurts my ears...

Edit, 01:00 CST Fri 20 Feb 2004: Following my introductory post in cpp, scottharmon, hermes_imagod, and I spent the better part of an hour reminiscing about the Atari 800 (which was the first computer for me and scottharmon), TRS-80; Apple ][e, //c, //gs, Fat Mac (512K Mac); Commodore VIC-20, 64, and Amiga; and Coleco Adam. I guess you young whippersnappers are all too young to remember the TI99-4a, Kaypro luggables with the 6" diagonal amber screens, and Timex Sinclair? *shakes cane*

Edit, 03:45 CST Sat 21 Feb 2004: A disclaimer is in order. Look, I've been using Eclipse for just over a year now, and I'm quite happy with it; however, I also think that crack shot programmers such as robbyjo could do with a little more proximity to the common user. The hoi polloi, as darana and I joked about this afternoon, are not to be forgotten, or as mirabehn says, the squirrels will get you. (Don't believe me? Look at the followups to my delurking post in cpp!)


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