Against foggy money and the “Cheaper is Good but Expensive can Be Better” Law

Two days ago I wrote about some ugly problems with Glassfish/Weld and I ended up talking about how hard is it to get a good rythm for writing and testing code in a JEE environment.

Time is money. If your train of thought is broken due to delays, then you are wasting even more money than you might think.

Why not spend money in tools to avoid throwing it away in low quality work time? Tools like JRebel. It reloads classes at runtime when you modify them, without requiring that you pack them in jars/wars/ears again and restart the application(s). Almost zero code to deployment time in many cases. Nice!

But there is a problem: money spent in tools or libraries tends to be too solid, and therefore the ones making the purchase decision become a bit too noticeable.

Developers do not use JRebel not because it is not reasonable to do so, but because somebody has to pay with solid money for it. Solid money is money that’s very clearly seen as it dissapears, because there is an invoice backing the expenditure. You can be caught spending solid money.

If we spend 1.000 euros in a tool, we might be seen doing the expenditure. However, if we spend 10.000 euros in wasted time, who the hell is gonna “see” that? This money is foggy money, money that evaporates without a trace.

Not investing in high quality development tools and environments or training is a clear case of cheap is good but expensive is better. It is death by a thousand cuts.

Unfortunately, using bad free but expensive tools & techniques is preferred all too often to using non free but cheap tools & techniques.

Refusing to do what we think is right for fear of finger pointing, all the time, is a proof of lack of maturity, and I doubt great software can be created if worrying and politics take the breath out of you.

It is time for the industry to mature and make a quantum leap towards responsibility, accountability and quality. Time to stop diverting energies away from finger pointing and penny pinching, and to start thinking big & deep.

Because there is no other way to be great!

Just thinking…

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