January 25, 2009 oslo

All Technology Has Downsides

Rocky makes some good points in his recent piece on DSLs (DSLs – fun, cool, but maybe a bad idea? ) — basically, who’s going to learn the DSL when the folks that know it move on? That’s one potential downside of the proliferation of DSLs and I could give you more.

However, all technologies come with these downsides, e.g.

  • Managed environments make new programmers forget what’s under the hood (and in some cases, actually afraid to look).
  • Horseless carriages produce pollution.
  • iPhones are killing the English language by encouraging the use of words” like lol,” afaik” and wtf.”
  • Airplanes crash.
  • Very very bad code written in Visual Basic can still do the right thing.
  • Fonts let every letter look like a ransom note.
  • etc.

The point isn’t whether a technology has downsides or not — of course, it does. The point is whether the upsides outweigh the downsides. In the case of DSLs and model-driven development all up, the Oslo” team is making a big bet that we can make you overall more productive when digging ourselves out of the IT software backlog hole. Will we be? I think so, but we have a lot of work to do before we’ll know for sure.

And how do we reduce the impact of the downsides of a new technology? By knowing that they’re there, which is why Rocky’s commentary is so useful. Recommended.