Coding for a living

Al Byers byersa at automationgroups.com
Fri Dec 23 11:34:46 MST 2005


Sasha Pachev wrote:

> > Sure would be nice to code for a living though.
>
> I suggest using whatever spare time you have to contribute to some 
> open-source project. Ideally, you want to have your own that you have 
> created from scratch, as well as some bigger scale project to which 
> you have contributed. Then prospective employers do not treat you as 
> the "entry level" programmer any more.
>
I think it is basically a good idea to create or contribute to an 
open-source project as a way to demonstrate interest and capability, 
but, realistically, the opportunities for contributing to something 
meaningful are few and far between. You can go to sourceforge and find 
dozens of projects of the same genre; only one or two in each category 
will get any real play.

The one area in which this is not true is in the creation of vertical 
business applications. This is an area in which the open source 
community has not made much of a dent, but it just happens to be one in 
which there is plenty of need, and therefore plenty of money to be made.

But it would be foolhardy to go off and do your own business app from 
scratch. Not only would it take longer than building on something that 
already exists, but its value would be minimalized because potential 
users would see it as unsupported and a high risk investment of their time.

Enter Open for Business (www.ofbiz.org). I have been programming for 20+ 
years and this is the best example of coding that I have ever seen. Some 
Apache Software Foundation VPs have taken an interest in OFBiz and there 
is a very good chance that it will become an Apache project very soon. 
It is already of high quality - used by companies like British Telecom 
and United Airlines. If it becomes an Apache project, very few companies 
will be able to match the resources that will be brought to bear on 
OFBiz. That is the true potential of open source, when the talents and 
resources are focused in a way that rivals the largest companies.

After Oracle finishes its raid on the ERP sector there are going to be 
very few competitors left. There was already a large gap in that sector. 
OFBiz is both a framework and a full set of ERP modules. It is not a 
trivial tool to pick up and learn - documentation is lagging 
development, but spending time learning something that has value to a 
business because it is a commodity would be a much better investment of 
time than creating something from scratch. But I know of very few 
programmers who see the value in following in someone else's footsteps. 
I am not one to talk; it has taken me years to realize that the last 5% 
of a project is what you never have time to do right.

In my mind, there is a golden opportunity for inexperienced programmers 
who want to become proficient in the J2EE sector to team with 
experienced IT worker who have domain expertise, but are not up-to-date 
on the latest technology to produce vertical applications that are of 
great worth. If only 2-3 teams of this nature were to organize in this 
local, we could resurrect the OFBiz user group and we could agree on 
vertical applications to tackle, identify what is already there in 
OFBiz, find areas of commonality and work together on those. When we 
were thru, there would be a type of brand applied to these products 
because they would have a lot of common features and style.

I am following such a course with my brother and would be interested in 
talking to anyone who is interested in the same thing.

-Al Byers



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