Originally Posted by kyleb
External web dev is pretty infuriating; I hate front-end stuff. Roles that I've always flourished in are developing internal tools for data-related applications, because you generally don't have to worry about dumb stuff like tweaks to CSS. Most business units just want a decent access portal to analytics and/or data, and if you can solve 80% of their problems with simple work (which you generally can), they love you.
It's overcomplicated by the fact that most people want way more than is necessary. WordPress solves literally 95% of all demands on the web, yet everyone wants their own custom CMS or whatever bull**** nonsense they don't need. I worked at a lead generation company where we migrated away from PHP4 to Java (wtf) because they wanted an "enterprise-level" solution; they used Grails (lol) for the internal tools packages. It was a goddamned mess, and our biggest competitor was using WordPress and crushing us.
I want to re-respond to this because it's a great post and I gave a non-answer the last time because I didn't want to go into religious reasoning. I only said that I rather get my own hands dirty and I feel that using a CMS (Drupal) would create too much difficulty because apparently I am a special snowflake. I can fully accept that the issue is my own inexperience and lack of patience. The way you describe the mess, I have to admit is sounds bad, and if I recall, you mentioned a while ago about working for a company in the Seattle area that is infamous for doing something...?
As far as WP goes, I have found myself suggesting people use it to build their own sites, but I always get the same answer: "WP is a blogging software, I'd rather use this program I'm using now: never mind that it's incompatible with any web host and has zero documentation or community support," which I explain to them to look at WP's main site and look at all the credit card and paypal plug-ins. I'm not saying it's easy to use, but if someone insists on building their own site, I would much rather suggest WP over Mount Drupal or Magento, with it being XML-based and all.
What I meant by my comment is this: I don't understand companies that can only use WP and then just use drag-and-drop UI to create everything. I think this smacks of un-professionalism, and yes, although I think doing this on any level is dishonest, at least, for the most part, they aren't charging more than $5,000 for a project. Sure, you won't see your site for about 6 months and it will probably suck, but at least they're somewhat honest in this regard.
A while back, I was researching a web-dev company here in Los Angeles, and I found it appalling that 85% of the companies I found were exactly what I just described, and many of them were charging something closer to $30,000.
I fail to understand why anyone would bother going to school for 4 to 6 years and then enter into these sorts of companies or specialize in CMS-based websites. Although I am dismissing a group of highly skilled developers with that comment, it's astounding that after all the interesting things you'd (hopefully) learn about computers and programming, that any sane person would want to sit down do stuff that superficially reflects programming. It would stand to reason then, that RoR, C#, and Django companies generally attract better developers because, although I am sure each company has a default CMS, each of those CMS's, as well as the front-end, is customizatable.
Have you ever heard of Agile Development in Word Press?
As far as a custom CMS, I don't know exactly what to make of that. I know some companies would prefer to switch around their site as they please, but I honestly think that allowing a customer to do this is really bad. Many of the sites I examined looked like Picasso drawings with all the different fonts, variable-styled bullet points, div sizes, and other muck they managed to put on the site. I am speaking not only from my research in web-dev houses, but also at the company I currently work at. I think that my, and everyone's, life at this company would be much easier it updating the site was three steps: Make the appropriate changes to a CSV, drag-and-drop the images to an FTP, upload the CSV. Boom: 300 updates complete in 1/2 day.
Even though PHP seems to be the bastard child of the web and reviled by many, I personally don't give a two craps what anyone uses for anything: just use a) what your comfortable with, b) the best tool for the job, and c) understand that a) and b) are non-inclusive.
As far as using Grails / JVM, I can understand a decision like this -- but not this one -- if they were actually deploying JVM-based products to desktop apps for enterprises. As I understand it, the whole point of these new-fangled JVM languages is to create enterprise-compatible programs that can be deployed with little resistance because so many companies use JVM for various reasons. But to rebuild a site like this does seem really stupid. But then again, so doesn't Oracle, SAP, Peach Tree, et.al. Why bother when you can just use LAMPP? The only difference is, that it sounds like your company just went into the new direction based on religion and not on business logic. Why would anyone rewrite their site in brand-new, untested, and unpopular language and framework?
I do agree that data-backed programming is more enticing and interesting: it's a good balance. I suppose though, that a good house will have a strong separation of duties. Unless someone wanted to come work on this site: I would just tell them to rewrite the whole thing and be glad they have a job. j/k.