Monday, April 26, 2010

Tulsa Developers tied to vendor technology

From time to time I take a look around to see what kind of programming talent is available in the Tulsa area. Most of what I find is tied to Oracle/Sun (Java) or Microsoft.

It's no secret that Tulsa has been heavy into Microsoft technology for years now. The community colleges and trade schools teach it, the recruiters can get their heads around it, and many conservative businesses would rather go with a name they know.

I remember a Williams employee steering me away from my Borland c++ compiler many moons ago, assuring me that Visual c++ was the future.

Well it was and it wasn't. I embraced Visual c++ and talked my first (serious) employer into letting me use it to write an application for a Phillips petroleum project. That work experience propelled me to my next development job, one I kept for almost a decade.

I wrote a heck of a lot of code using Visual c++ and the MFC framework, until it became my job to port the code to Unix flavors. For days, weeks, months I chased the not-quite-regular constants, the libraries that were similar but rarely identical to the standards. It was then that I started going cold on Microsoft.

I moved away from Microsoft development tools for a lot of reasons including a strong preference for open-source. There's so much free and truly open support on the web. When combined with Linux, open-source makes it possible to examine every nook and cranny of source code down to the kernel level.

Why would new developers gravitate to vendor tools when

  • they can't examine what is going on under the covers,

  • they can't control how long the technology will be supported before the vendor deprecates (or abandons) it in favor of new vendor tools,

  • they can't really have any substantial influence over the evolution of the technology?

I was thinking about these questions as I reviewed search results for "tulsa developers". It turns up these sites and not much more.

Tulsa seems to have a flourishing Microsoft and Java community. Who is representing everything else that's happening in computer science?

According to, the most popular programming language is JAVA. Microsoft-based technology doesn't rank until the fifth position, and then it falls off except for position eight. In Tulsa, I'm sure Visual Basic and C# would contend for two of the first three slots.

1. Java - 19.1%
2. C - 15.2%
3. C++ - 10.1%
4. PHP - 8.7%
5. Visual Basic - 8.4%
6. Perl - 6.2%
7. Python - 3.8%
8. C# - 3.7%
9. JavaScript - 3.1%
10. Ruby - 2.6%
11. Delphi - 2.1%

We all know that Tulsa, Oklahoma is a conservative city and not well known for risk taking. And perhaps there is more to the story that a simple web query immediately reveals. is Tulsa-based. Python-friendly Vidoop was founded here, though they relocated and then folded. Perhaps they should have stuck around.

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