The Rise and Resurrection of the American Programmer


"Yourdon takes a detailed look at how to improve projects and personal and organization's performance as well. And he analyzes some of today's hottest technologies, such as Java, and takes a look at the future of the Internet. His book provides resources for navigating no matter how the chips fall." -Alan R. Earls, Computerworld, July 1996

"For American programmers, the message of this book is clear: Stay up-to-date and value innovation and talent. Yourdon's strategies can help to meet these goals." -Steve Apiki, Byte Magazine, July 1996

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Upper Saddle River, NJ 1996 Hard Cover First Edition, First Printing NEW-COLLECTIBLE in New jacket First Edition, First Printing BRAND NEW & COLLECTIBLE w/trace wear to ... dustjacket. First Edition, First Printing. Software industry history. Edward Nash Yourdon (1944), software engineer, computer consultant, author and lecturer, is also a pioneer in the software engineering methodology. This volume is a sequel to Decline and Fall of the American Programmer (1992) warning of the rise of programmers in other countries (particularly India and Japan) who were able to produce software less expensively with higher quality. In this follow-up book, Yourdon sees renaissance in the state of American software industry. 13 chapters in 3 parts: Part I, Decline & Fall, Re-examined; II, Repaving Cowpaths; and II, The Brave New World, followed by Appendix: An Updated Programmer's Bookshelf. Read more Show Less

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"Yourdon takes a detailed look at how to improve projects and personal and organization's performance as well. And he analyzes some of today's hottest technologies, such as Java, and takes a look at the future of the Internet. His book provides resources for navigating no matter how the chips fall." -Alan R. Earls, Computerworld, July 1996

"For American programmers, the message of this book is clear: Stay up-to-date and value innovation and talent. Yourdon's strategies can help to meet these goals." -Steve Apiki, Byte Magazine, July 1996

"Yourdon suggests that new technologies and new markets are changing the rules of the game. As with his earlier book, Decline and Fall of the American Programmer, I believe that professional software developers will serve themselves poorly if they don't pay attention to Yourdon's carefully researched message." -Peter Coffee, PC Week, March 1996

"Ed Yourdon ruffled feathers in the software industry with his 1992 book, Decline and Fall of the American Programmer. His latest book, Rise and Resurrection of the American Programmer, sounds a more optimistic note in asserting that a new generation of programmers are doing exciting things that competitors haven't started to do yet." -Sherrie Van Tyle, Electronic Design, May 1996

There are have dramatic changes in software development since Edward Yourdaon wrote his bestseller Decline and Fall of the American Programmer in 1992. Now Yourdon tells how to flourish as a programmer in today's radically-new world of software development. Yourdon reviews the new landscape, helping programmers understand the new technologies, industries and applications they should be involved with the end of the 20th century.

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Editorial Reviews

Examines national and international trends in the software industry in a somewhat more optimistic light than the author's 1992 Decline and Fall of the American Programmer. Focuses on worldwide competition to the traditional application developer, and looks at the new generation of American programmers leading the industry, changes in the competitive situation in the past four years, and new technologies and applications on the horizon. For professional programmers. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780131218314
  • Publisher: Prentice Hall Professional Technical Reference
  • Publication date: 3/19/1996
  • Series: YOURDON Press Computing Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 299
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.22 (d)

Table of Contents


1. The Original Premise.
An Update of the Original Premise. What Do Software Customers Really Want? Conclusion.

2. Peopleware.
The Basic Concept. Breaking the Social Contract. Other Changes in Peopleware. Strategic Implications.

3. The Other Silver Bullets.
Software Process Improvement. Object Technology. Software Reuse. Software Metrics. Summary and Conclusions.


4. System Dynamics.
Models of Software Processes. Visual Models. Some Examples. War Games. Summary and Conclusions.

5. Personal Software Practices.
The Concept of Personal Software Processes. The Practicality of the PSP. Summary and Conclusions.

6. Best Practices.
What Are Best Practices? Best Practices at DOD. Worst Practices. Implementing Best Practices. Summary and Conclusion.

7. Good-Enough Software.
The Concept of “Good Enough.” What Prevents Us from Building Good-Enough Software? Defending Good-Enough Software. Building Good-Enough Software. The Implications for American Software. Summary and Conclusions.


8. Service Systems.
Why Do We Recreate the Same Old Stuff? CoreSystems, Infrastructure Systems, and Service Systems. Strategic Implications. The Impact on the American Programmer.

9. The Internet.
Who Cares? Why This Matters to the Average Programmer. Who's Going to Win the Internet Race?

10. Java and the New Internet Programming Paradigm.
What Is Java All About? The Java Environment. The Java Language. Alternatives and Competitors. Strategic Implications. Summary and Conclusions.

11. The Microsoft Paradigm.
Microsoft's Approach to Software Development. The Dark Side of the Force. Into the Belly of the Beast. 11.4 Peopleware at Microsoft. Development Practices at Microsoft.

12. Embedded Systems and Brave New Worlds.
Why Embedded Systems? Some Potential Examples. Trends and Implications. Who Will Prevail in the Field of Embedded Systems?

13. Past, Present, and Future.
Appendix: An Updated Programmer's Bookshelf.

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The American programmer is dead, long live the American programmer.

In 1992, I wrote Decline and Fall of the American Programmer, a gloomy assessment of the competitive posture of the American software industry in the global marketplace. The book has been translated into half a dozen languages, thus providing (I assume) a source of joy and optimism for programmers around the world who hope they can emulate the success of Microsoft, Borland, and Lotus. Meanwhile, it has been used as a textbook in numerous American college courses, and has been distributed by MIS managers to their overworked and browbeaten application developers, thus (presumably) providing a source of gloom and doom to programmers in this country. I've received hundreds of letters, faxes, and e-mail messages from soft- ware people who have told me that it has changed their life or ruined their life—or that they completely disagree with me and wonder what planet I live on. Some have told me they can see the handwrit- ing on the wall, and that they fully expect their software organization to collapse in the next few years, leaving them stranded with unmar- ketable skills in COBOL or MVS assembly language. Others have told me that software just isn't fun any more, and that they've abandoned their profession to begin a new career in some other field.

But all of that was four years ago, and things do change—espe- cially in our field. We've gone through another two generations of hardware technology, and we've witnessed the explosion of Internet, multimedia, and other technologies that were on the horizon in 1992 but not yet in widespread use. Meanwhile, I've continued traveling around theworld—typically to some 15 countries a year—to see what our international competitors are up to. Some of the trends that worried me four years ago have become even more pronounced now, but I've been pleasantly surprised to see that in other areas the U.S. software industry has demonstrated a substantial competitive advantage.

Hence this book. While my mood four years ago was one of pes- simism, I'm now cautiously optimistic about the future of the Ameri- can programmer. In many ways, I think my original premise was right: The traditional application developer faces increasing competi- tion from people around the world who are cheaper, faster, and bet- ter. And I think my premise is just as relevant for the developers today who are using Visual Basic, Delphi, and Smalltalk as it is for the old-fashioned mainframe developers who toil laboriously with COBOL and character-based text editors. Some good things and bad things have happened along the way, slightly changing the picture I painted four years ago—but the overall conclusion that I drew is, in my opinion, largely correct.

But in many ways, it's irrelevant: That American programmer is indeed dead, or at least in grave peril. But there's a new generation of American programmers, doing exciting new things—which, to a sig- nificant extent, our competitors haven't begun doing yet. For those whose COBOL jobs have disappeared and whose Visual Basic projects are now being outsourced to Bangalore, this is exciting news: You can still find an exciting career in the software field without having your salary reduced to $3,000 per year. We are, in my opinion, witnessing the rise and resurrection of the American programmer.

Naturally, a statement like this will evoke a chorus of argu- ments—just as my gloomy prognostication in Decline and Fall of the American Programmer did four years ago. Some will agree with my assessment, some will disagree, and perhaps others will argue that it's irrelevant. Indeed, even if I'm right, there's no guarantee that the situation will persist: As I noted above, things do change rather rap- idly in our field. Whatever competitive advantage we may now have could vanish rather quickly, for the treasure we now hold is simply an intellectual asset, and it can flourish almost as quickly in any other part of the world. But, as I'll discuss later in this book, there is more to it than that: The success of our software industry is also due to the overall social, economic, and intellectual culture of the North Ameri- can community, as well as the success of a few key industries which do require large investments.

Before discussing my optimistic assessment of the present and future software industry, I want to step back to review the past. After all, not everyone has read Decline and Fall of the American Programmer; while it succeeded beyond my original expectations, I'm nevertheless humbled by the realization that ten times as many people bought DOS for Dummies during the same period. After a summary of the premise of Decline and Fall, I'll provide a quick update: What has changed in the competitive situation for traditional application development? As noted above, some things have gotten better, and some things have gotten worse—but the net result is about the same as it was before.

But after this quick review and update, I'll turn to the more exciting prospects for the future. What are the new technologies, the new industries, and the applications we should be pursuing during these final few years of the 20th century? If you're a COBOL program- mer today, or even if you've recently made a transition to newer tech- nologies like VisualAge and Delphi, what should you be looking forward to?

The discussion that follows is not intended to be a deep techni- cal treatise. The technology is out there, and where appropriate, I'll provide references to the appropriate books, journals, and World Wide Web pages; but as we all know, the technology changes daily, and any references that I make to specific products or vendors are likely to be obsolete by the time this book is published. What's important, I think, is an orientation and sense of perspective. If my perspective four years ago encouraged you to drop out of a dead-end software career, I hope my perspective this time will encourage you to seek new adventures and, in the spirit of Star Trek, boldly go where none have gone before.
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