17 June 2016

Do you like tooling?

This was a question I was asked at some point during a job interview and that took me entirely by surprise, so my answer was likely less than statisfactory...

In retrospect I probably shouldn't have been so surprised: everyone complains when the CI environment is wonky, the build is slow or contantly trips over its own feet, but few developers care to actually do something about these problems.

Me, I hate friction in my workflow, when the build tool takes ages to get artifacts from the artifact repository (assuming there even is one) or recompiles way more than it should and releases are done entirely manually then usually at some point I'll get fed up and do something about the most painful of these problems. This likely ends with me maintaining the CI server, artifact repository and builds or at least the more complex bits of these.

Which brings us back to the original question "Do I like tooling?". I think the correct answer would be that "I don't mind" and I rather be the one spending time on it than having to deal with a broken environment. Working on it exclusively is another matter though as it might become rather hard to appreciate the tooling when you are not on the consuming end as well.

That said I can't help but wonder why this is such a neglected area.

  • Is it for fear of appearing unproductive while working on the environment and not directly the product?
  • Or is it simply ignorance about the fact that things don't have to be so broken?
  • Is it having to learn yet another set of abilities on top of the constant learning we already have to do in our business?
Tags: Tooling