1608: A Roman law establishes that bakers who intend to sell vermicelli must belong to the Guild of Vermicellari.
I hacked together a FileMaker Pro 6 database application for Mac OS 9 this weekend with my wife M.C. Moewe. She began a job two weeks ago covering real estate and land development for the Florida Times-Union, and she'll be working on a weekly Pipeline feature that's better suited to a database than a word processor.
The application must output records as a word processing file with font formatting and bullet characters. I can't figure out how to accomplish this within FileMaker, so I'm looking at external solutions using AppleScript, Radio UserLand and UserTalk, or some kind of XML transformation.
I'm neither a Mac guy nor a FileMaker user, prior to today, which matches the lack of expertise I had in VBScript and Object Linking and Embedding prior to a project I did last week to print labels on a Dymo LabelWriter 330 in Internet Explorer.
Though I heart Java, I sometimes find it preferable to cobble together different technologies and programming languages in Rube Goldbergian fashion. I can verify that the programs work, through testing, but sometimes lack the expertise to understand why. Coding time is fast and ugly.
The FileMaker hack reminded me of Save the Hobbyist Programmer, a controversial essay in the February 2004 Visual Studio magazine by Kathleen Dollard. She argues that casual coders are being left behind by increasingly complicated Microsoft development tools, a problem viewed as a happy outcome by professional programmers such as Michael Flanakin:
If you get rid of all the people who aren't completely dedicated [to] software development, that would open a lot of jobs. Then, those people could focus on whatever domain their experience is from.
For job security reasons, I can understand why pros believe that software should only be created by themselves. All who sell vermicelli must belong to the Guild of Vermicellari.
On no other basis can Flanakin's position be defended. If someone with expertise outside of programming can make a task easier through a scripting hack or database kludge, isn't that exactly what computers are supposed to be for?