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Debate: Are drag'n'drop / automatic programming tools good or bad for the industry?

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#13 WingedPanther73

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 07:39 AM

Most RAD tools also have an option for you to create/set components on the fly. I do drag-and-drop in Delphi a lot, but have also used parent classes of components as variables where I'm not sure which subclass I'll actually need, or how many.

 

The key for ALL RAD tools is to know which method will work best for you in each circumstance, and use that method.


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#14 lespauled

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 08:31 AM

Drag and drop is great for getting newer programmers up to speed.  It's also great for making quick sceens, etc.

 

The main issue is that a person learns to do without the drag and drop functionality, even if they rarely use it.  It's important to know what drag and drop is actually doing.


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#15 BenW

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 11:57 AM

The main issue is that a person learns to do without the drag and drop functionality, even if they rarely use it.  It's important to know what drag and drop is actually doing.

Interesting stance. Why do you think that? I'd take the opposite view and say that as long as the output is what's needed, it doesn't matter mcuh how that person got the solution.

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#16 lespauled

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 12:05 PM

I do most of my programming in ASP.NET.  Routinely, I'll find programmers who can't figure out what their problem is because they can't read the generated code.  If a programmer (in ASP.NET) solely relies on the IDE to write their code, they act like there is a monkey wrench in the gears as soon as something is wrong.

 

In other languages, like Delphi, this isn't necessarily the case.  But it is in the programmer's best interest to understand what is going on under the hood.

 

I guess it's like the mechanic analogy.  A driver that never looks under the hood will be stranded if something goes wrong.  A mechanic has the chance to fix anything obvious quickly and be on his way.


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#17 BenW

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 12:08 PM

I guess it's like the mechanic analogy.  A driver that never looks under the hood will be stranded if something goes wrong.  A mechanic has the chance to fix anything obvious quickly and be on his way.

That's true - but I'm sure you wouldn't extend the analogy to saying that everyone who drives should build their own car, or be able to repair any fault it develops.

I think understanding the logic is important, just as it's important for a driver to know how to drive. But if they get from A to B okay, I'm not sure it matters if they know how the engine works or not.

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#18 lespauled

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 12:44 PM

But as programmers, we are mechanics. 


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#19 Yannbane

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 11:15 PM

Anyone who doesn't wrote code isn't a programmer. Why do those tools even exist? I don't understand who would hire someone who didn't know how to use the technology they were looking for.

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#20 BenW

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 04:01 AM

Anyone who doesn't wrote code isn't a programmer. Why do those tools even exist? I don't understand who would hire someone who didn't know how to use the technology they were looking for.

Ah, now nobody said we were talking about the definition of being a programmer. It would be a pretty short thread if so :laugh:

 

I favor getting projects done, regardless of how skilled someone may or may not be with aspects of the technology that they don't need to know. If someone can complete a project to a set standard, does it matter if they handcoded it, or used a tool like Scratch (or Dreamweaver, etc) to do the work?


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#21 0xDEADBEEF

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 04:45 AM

Some of the latest and greatest frameworks are basically this approach. But instead of dragging and dropping the classes; you wire them up using XML or directly in code.

But the idea is that you write very independent classes, which depend not any specific class, but on well defined interfaces; then you wire these up by injecting various instantiations into the class (i.e dependency injection.)

Connecting these classes via a Gui tool, or via configuration is really just a matter of syntax. Its still building an application.

Some problem domains lend themselves to this type of development though, GUI programming is one; Middle-ware services is another. As a programmer I might both create the underlying units but also want to wire them up in such an easy way.


I actually think the war against traditional programming languages hurt programming more than tools like these.

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#22 Yannbane

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 08:32 AM

Ah, now nobody said we were talking about the definition of being a programmer. It would be a pretty short thread if so :laugh:
 
I favor getting projects done, regardless of how skilled someone may or may not be with aspects of the technology that they don't need to know. If someone can complete a project to a set standard, does it matter if they handcoded it, or used a tool like Scratch (or Dreamweaver, etc) to do the work?

If one does not write code, one is not a coder; simple as that. There's a lot more to programming than GUI development, although I don't see why would you use a generator tool for that either...

It might be OK for designers to create early prototypes for example.

And I completely disagree that you don't need to know the technology you're working with.

Also, lets keep Scratch out of this discussion. Scratch isn't meant for professional development, but for educational purposes. It's meant as an intro to programming. And it's much more complex than most other generator tools actually, it simply abstracts the hard parts with its intuitive interface, predefined concepts and easier (graphical) syntax.

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#23 lespauled

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 08:35 AM

IDEs just put things on a form.  Even with an IDE, there are times when I code things by hand.  I can probably code a control faster than pulling one from the toolbox, then going to the properties window and setting the appropriate fields.


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#24 WingedPanther73

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 05:33 AM

As an example: when coding in Delphi it is VERY common for me to open the .frm file in a text editor to do additional modifications. When many items aren't lined up properly, for example, it's sometimes easier to set values in code than drag this around until they line up JUUUUUUUUST right.

 

Generated code can be quite good or quite awful. I did some prototyping of a site in Kompozer once, and got something very pretty with garbage code behind it. You have to understand what those drag-and-drop tools are actually doing, or you do get strange bugs sooner or later.


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