Gads, I’ve been writing software for a long time. I started my professional career in 1986, writing LISP on Symbolics machines. Back then, there was no web (well, not as we know it today) on which you could look up easy answers to coding problems, share toolkits, or converse with other developers (well, there was usenet, but it wasn’t the same world as it is today).
Today, we have a virtual community of developers. While our companies may compete, it wouldn’t be unusual for two developers to accidentally help each other by responding to messages on a help board such as Stack Overflow.
Recently I posted a question there that I knew would elicit responses such as, “Why are you trying to do that?” I know what I’m trying to do might be loony, but it seemed to make sense at the time. Working alone at home, I don’t have the same personal networking with my colleagues that I used to have at previous jobs. Sometimes I miss the interpersonal relationships, the banter, and the ability to bounce a nutty idea off another developer. Instead, I do web searches and ask questions on forums. At times, it can even be a little embarrassing to ask a question on a forum, but the fact is, everyone’s in pretty much the same boat. Most developers are just like you and me – nice people, willing to help or give you and hand, and expect the same in return.
It’s a community of software developers, who write toolkits, utilities, sample code, and free applications that help us all get our work done. I don’t know if Richard Stallman is right about all software being free, but I do know that with the free exchange of ideas we all write better software. A big thanks to my fellow developers around the world.