The Invasion of the Lightweights

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So two guys who code Assembly are talking about the new guy. He’s all proud of himself because his programs compile and run pretty fast. But not nearly as fast as their hand-coded Assembly. You see, they’ve been doing this a while. They know just how to build the programs they want to make them perform at top speeds. But the new guy? He doesn’t care. He sees this idea of using a higher-level programming language, Fortran, as a better way. A new way. A faster way. And they call him a lightweight.

It’s the invasion of the lightweights.

Skip forward a few years. Two guys who code C are talking about the new guy. He’s all proud of himself because his programs take him no time at all to code. But they’re not nearly as fast as their C. You see, they’ve been doing this a while. They know just how to write their programs, declare their variables and manage their memory. The new guy? He doesn’t care. He sees this idea of using a higher-level programming language, Visual Basic, as a better way. A new way. A faster way. And they call him a lightweight.

It’s the invasion of the lightweights.

Skip forward a few years. Two guys who code in Lotus Notes are talking about the new guy. He’s all proud of himself because he can put data on the web in no time flat. But it’s not nearly as sophisticated as how they do it. You see, they’ve been doing this a while. They know how to create CGI programs that will run fast and delivery custom data to their very own http daemon. The new guy? He doesn’t know any of that. He’s an HTML programmer. Programmer? They don’t call what he does programming. They call him a lightweight.

It’s the invasion of the lightweights.

And last night some guy who writes code using Rails and CodeIgniter hears that some WordPress guy is suggesting that people may want to use WordPress as an application platform. Much like every programmer before him, he can’t see it. He’s a hard core programmer. He likes his hard core tools. And he looks at the tools that new programmers might use (in this case WordPress), and all he sees are lightweights.

Real programmers use real tools.

Whether it’s a slam on the tools or the people, the notion is that a person developing a new piece of software should have to do it the way others have done it in the past. They must work as hard. They must toil with the same hurdles. They must face the same challenges.

But guess what?

With every new generation of developers comes a set of tools that take some shortcuts and make things easier. And every time that happens, it opens the doors to non-programmers. And it even helps turn non-programmers into programmers.

And that’s how we get the invasion of the lightweights.

There’s nothing wrong with Rails. They’re nothing wrong with CodeIgniter. There’s nothing wrong with the developers that use them. But there’s nothing wrong with a person who can create a software solution simply by assembling a few plugins, writing some custom post types and metaboxes (or even using a plugin to help them do it) and delighting a client.

You may call them a “configurer”, an “assembler”, or even a “lightweight.” But I can guarantee you this – if the program is done well, quickly, and delights a customer who couldn’t do it themselves, that person will be called “a solution developer.”

About Chris Lema

Chris Lema has been working with WordPress since 2005. Over the years he's been a blogger, a speaker at WordCamps, a coach for WordPress product companies, and the founder of the conference for WordPress business owners, called CaboPress. Today he's the VP of Products at Liquid Web, where he manages the world's first managed platform for WooCommerce stores.

Chris Lema

Chris Lema has been working with WordPress since 2005. Over the years he's been a blogger, a speaker at WordCamps, a coach for WordPress product companies, and the founder of the conference for WordPress business owners, called CaboPress. Today he's the VP of Products at Liquid Web, where he manages the world's first managed platform for WooCommerce stores.

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