Yes, I'm looking at you Windows Admins!

Come out from behind you GUI!  

Keep your hands on the home row!  

Slowly!  

Slowly!

Now open a command prompt without touching the mouse!

Our ability to click through a UI can only take us so far, as our environments grow and the server to admin ratio becomes much less favorable to the admin.

Scripting is Programming

Dictionary.com defines a program (in one of the definitions) as to insert or encode specific instructions into (a machine or apparatus). 

I get so much push back when I talk to sysadmins about good programming practices and why they matter to us.  

Regardless of what you think about scripting vs. programming or sysadmins vs. developers, the fact is that the instructions you assemble to direct computers to do things is programming and deserves the quality of effort and professionalism.

I talked briefly about the view of "throwaway scripts" in my "It's Just Temporary" post. There is often a perception that scripting is less professional or less durable than other types of development.  That is not the case.. Take a look at all the organizations running off of batch files and vbscript.  I can see the argument being made about them being less "professional" solely due to lack of disciple and practices in building those scripts.  (Developers - you aren't off the hook here.. I've seen and contributed to some ugly codebases in my time.) 

Your scripts deserve the same level of rigor and discipline as the customer facing applications do.  The scripts we write to operate our environments often NEED to be correct to ensure a quality delivery of the services we support.

Here are a few things you can do now, for no cost to minimal cost:

  • Investigate a source control system.  Find one that works for your workflow.
  • Find a few blogs/sites/videos/books about good software development practices.  Start learning the terminology and concepts.
  • Learn about unit testing.  There are many unit testing frameworks, most are open source, and they cover just about any language. 

If You Cannot Program

Good luck if you are interviewing with me.  

I don't care what language you use or what skill level you are at currently.  

I care that you know that work scales past your ability to do things repetitively and that you are trying to expand your capability to impact your environment.

What's Stopping You?

If you aren't able to do some scripting or aren't learning to, I'd love to hear in the comments as to why.

Want more great reading? Check out my reading list!