This morning I spent some time thinking about how software luminaries are generally loved or hated.
I've always been confused by people who really dislike Martin Fowler. Personally, I find Martin to be quite nice, but even if I didn't I would find it hard to disregard his passion for improving software development.
Obie Fernandez is another luminary who generally evokes love or hate. I'm friends with Obie as well as people who dislike Obie. Obie detractors often ask: How can you put up with him? The question is mostly targeted at Obie's passionate communication style. I've always thought that what Obie has to say is what's important, so I don't really care how he chooses to communicate it.
As I've gotten to know an increasing number of luminaries I noticed that things don't change at the top either: several of the luminaries seem to love and hate each other.
Why is it that software luminaries elicit such passionate feelings? I believe it's because software development (at an advanced level) is art. It's hard to find developers who can agree on architecture and it's hard to find artists who can agree on the best painting of all time. There is no right answer, it's contextual and subjective.
I also believe that luminaries (unconsciously) perpetuate the disdain with their passionate personalities. For example, a Martin Fowler averse developer once told me that Martin lives in a Java only world. If you read Martin's material you know that isn't the case; however, Martin does use Java examples very often. I don't think Martin uses Java because he prefers Java, I believe that Martin is passionate about reaching as many people as possible and therefore must use a widely known language. Unfortunately, the developer didn't see it from that perspective (I believe) because he was so focused on Ruby being better than Java that he was ready to dismiss anything pertaining to Java.
Software is an art and luminaries are passionate, I don't expect either of these things to change in the near future. Thus, I expect the disdain to remain as well, but perhaps being aware of the origin of the dislike can lead to a bit more tolerance within our passionate, artistic communities.