I was utterly floored when I read this new IEEE article by Tom DeMarco (pdf). See if you can tell why.
…I’m gradually coming to the conclusion that software engineering is an idea whose time has come and gone.
Software development is and always will be somewhat experimental. The actual software construction isn’t necessarily experimental, but its conception is. And this is where our focus ought to be. It’s where our focus always ought to have been.
Tom DeMarco is one of the most deeply respected authority figures in the software industry, having coauthored the brilliant and seminal Peopleware as well as many other near-classic software project management books like Waltzing With Bears. For a guy of Tom’s caliber, experience, and influence to come out and just flat out say that Software Engineering is Dead …
That’s kind of a big deal. It’s scary.
And yet, it’s also a release. It’s as if a crushing weight has been lifted from my chest. I can publicly acknowledge what I’ve slowly, gradually realized over the last 5 to 10 years of my career as a software developer: what we do is craftsmanship, not engineering. And I can say this proudly, unashamedly, with nary a shred of self-doubt.