Joel on software has lost all my respect.

I have really enjoyed, or at least learned from Joel Spolsky (from Joel on Software) in the past. But his latest article has me wondering if he isn’t a M$ weenie (and a dickhead).

I don’t link to stuff that I don’t like, so I’m intentionally leaving the inspiration for this post unlinked. The name of the article was “Martian Headsets”, I’m sure you can find it if you want. If someone hadn’t sent this out at work today, it wouldn’t even necessitate a response, but they did, and I now feel the need to comment on how much I do not appreciate his bullshit rant.

I guess the thing that most pisses me off is that he’s actually trying to incite the very flame war that he “predicts” in his article. His main strategy seems to be making us all out to be at one end of two extremes. There are two kinds of web developer (or perhaps browser developer): “Idealists” and “Pragmatists”. He’s implying that pro-standard means anti-backward compatibility. He’s also implying that pro-pragmatism means anti-standards. Neither of these are even remotely true.

Anyway, the article is written with a very subtle sympathy for microsoft. The bulk of the article consists of a long-winded and misleading analogy involving martian mp3 players. (M$ is supposed to be the developer of these mp3 players, which are supposed to represent IE8.) Initially they make the players, and also the headphones. (In the analogy, the headphones are webpages.) So you can see right away how stupid his analogy is… if we “buy” this analogy, then at some point, M$ was somehow the sole browser developer, and they also developed all the webpages. He just keeps piling more and more shit onto this analogy, trying to sell us on this idea that the more webpage developers and browser makers there are, the harder it is for M$ to write a decent product. Oh, poor microsoft!

4 Replies to “Joel on software has lost all my respect.”

  1. Joel is playing the adsense/slashdot game, like he routinely does when he needs to pimp his blog (usually, before an advertising push for his new products).

  2. @Robby I didn’t immediately see how to add comments on your site, but check out my latest blog post on Why Postel’s Law is awesome.

    For the record, I totally disagree with Joel’s premise that IE doesn’t have a line to walk. He thinks its all black and white. All standards or no. But for a giant company like M$, it’s got to be all about risk management. What percentage of the people can they make happy when they release IE8? Are they aiming to please web developers, or browser consumers? Ha! of course the answer is both, and how is that not walking a line?

    The one thing I do agree with in Joel’s article is that IE8 will not ship with a standards-only-mode enabled by default. (On the other hand, I also don’t believe it will actually be standards compliant, although I’m sure the acid test will look great.) I just don’t think they’re that dumb, but hey, they did release Vista, so what do I know?

  3. Indeed, Microsoft is walking a line of negative width and it is painted into a corner. But it created the line in the first place and it has been painting the floor since 1996, so I don’t really feel any sympathy when they’re now complaining, throwing their hands in the air and shouting “Don’t break the web!”. They created the problem in the first place, so why the heck shouldn’t they fix it?

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