Charles Petzold has some interesting thoughts in his essay Does Visual Studio Rot the Mind?, but for me, it’s really this which illustrates why Microsoft is sapping all the allure out of programming:
Today we are ready for the official release of the .NET Framework 2.0. Tabulating only MSCORLIB.DLL and those assemblies that begin with word System, we have over 5,000 public classes that include over 45,000 public methods and 15,000 public properties, not counting those methods and properties that are inherited and not overridden. A book that simply listed the names, return values, and arguments of these methods and properties, one per line, would be about a thousand pages long.
If you wrote each of those 60,000 properties and methods on a 3-by-5 index card with a little description of what it did, you%u2019d have a stack that totaled 40 feet.7 These 60,000 cards, laid out end to end %u2014 the five inch end, not the three inch end %u2014 can encircle Central Park (almost), and I hear this will actually be a public art project next summer.
Whenever I try to use Visual Studio and code any significant applications for Microsoft, I’m always shocked by all the bits of code that seem to have to be constructed which have nothing to do with my application whatsoever. Such programs are what I refer to as “densely annoying” and “sparsely intelligent”. It is actually an intensely bad thing that Microsoft has this “friendly” environment to write all this code for you, to try to remind you of the sixteenth argument to version two of some class that will probably be obsoleted with the next release of Windows: it prevents them from having to actually think about just how poorly the overall system is designed and actually going through the labor of fixing it. Streamlining it. Making it something that a programmer doesn’t get a headache from just thinking about, and muscle aches from carrying the books and manuals around.
Oh, and just in case you Linux guys get to feeling smug, you are marching down this path too. Microsoft just has a decade or so head start in becoming a bloated behemoth. There may be hope for you, but only if you turn back from the dark side now.
Thanks Dan for bringing this one to my attention.