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Do you think desktop application developers should know how to do web development, and/or vice versa? In the industry, is it common for desktop developers to do web development (to some degree) and/or vice versa (again)?

To what degree should one of the two parties (if at all) know the other party's job? Should you not specialize at all?

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While DeveloperArt's answer is very good, it's usually better to wait more than 23 minutes to accept an answer. –  Walter Feb 6 '11 at 14:30

5 Answers 5

up vote 8 down vote accepted

They don't have to but knowing the other field will keep their knowledge horizons wider.

If not for immediate working duties then at the very least to get an idea of what kind of problems and challenges their other colleagues are struggling with. This is invaluable for team cooperation and to make smart decisions in projects spread across both fields.

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It's become longer and I dare to hope not worse. –  user8685 Feb 6 '11 at 14:04
No, it's still fine :) –  Anto Feb 6 '11 at 14:05

I think if there's no need for it in your job, then there's no reason to spend time learning it - and certainly not on billed time - unless it holds some interest for you or you want to broaden your skill base.

Not specializing at all means staying at an entry-level realm of experience, unless you split your effort equally between the two fields; where half your effort will be mostly wasted.

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+1 Great answer, I really agree with your second paragraph there. However, the response below on keeping your knowledge horizons wider I think is also important to have a least an awareness of "the other side". –  Martin Blore Feb 6 '11 at 14:08
Speicializing may help relative to one's own ability level, but I'm not convinced someone who only knows one area is more qualified. –  JeffO Feb 6 '11 at 16:16
@Jeff O - more qualified to do what, exactly? I don't think I mentioned the word "qualified" in my answer, so don't know what you're getting at here? –  TZHX Feb 6 '11 at 16:35
Unlinke MeshMan, I really disagree with your second paragraph. I suppose if you only work the same type of applications then maybe what you say is true, but after a couple of years that would be a huge bore. I have worked for larger companies with a wide variety of projects/topics and have found invariably that knowing something about everything is far better in that environment than being a niche developer. The niche developers are the first to go when layoffs happen because they aren't too useful unless there is an active project requiring their exact skills. –  Dunk Feb 6 '11 at 20:23
I don't disagree that knowing something about different environments is a good thing. But to "not specialise" would mean keeping up with every technology in a way that isn't practical to your current position. How can you learn everything to a level you would need to to work in it professionally, and still find time to get your actual work done? –  TZHX Feb 6 '11 at 20:33

I've found that knowing both has been very useful.

We've often written a desktop application for a group of users and then followed it up with a web application (for the same business need) for a separate group of users. When we do this, the desktop app is usually a full featured, rich application and the web app is usually offers less features or is for viewing various reports. In our group the same developers write both apps which is efficient since we know all the business logic/rules from doing the first application.

I would think that in general, if you have access to both types of projects then it is worth knowing both. It gives you more experience to draw from and makes you that much more marketable when you're out looking for your next job.

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I think knowing both can make your more valuable, but as they say "jack of all trades, master of none".

Me, I do both, but probably don't do either as well as if I concentrated on only one.

It does mean there is a wider ranger of jobs available to me.

There is also I think, and some may disagree, maybe a slightly negative connotation to say you are a web developer over a software developer/engineer.

Just my opinion that last one though.

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It's a plus, but in my opinion, the web is only good at being the web: strings everywhere, making communication easy, but that's just it.

I guess your question is more about "Does people doing and focusing on compiled machine software should worry about web technologies and learn them", my answer is no: it's always a plus to know how the web works (and it's a great start of computer culture and makes one wonder about a lot of things), but to me, it's not very useful because web development is not about low level stuff: it's either interpreted garbage collected languages or javascript scripting.

I don't want to say that web development is easy and/or pointless, because that's one big feature of computers (communication), but to me, web dev. doesn't have much potential compared to compiled and runtime softwares: web applications are too much focused on communication rather than the application itself.

The internet is great, I agree with that, but I sometime think companies should provide more services not via the web, and propose products other than something that just goes through a web page, with video, flash or sound. Computers are not about the transmission of data, they also are about executing programs.

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