It's such a strange article, in that it's mostly favorable to my point of view but with such a breathless amazement to it, like he's just discovered an actual unicorn or something. "Look, everybody! Here's a hacker who actually accomplished things and yet he doesn't fetishize the latest fads that I and all of my friends make our living writing about!" There's this tone to the thing like he just can't imagine that someone like me can exist. He's impressed but he doesn't really believe in it, this mythological creature he's discovered. And of course the whole "duct tape" thing is vaguely insulting, and a perfect example of what we call "damning with faint praise".
So I guess to the extent that he puts me up on a pedestal for merely being practical, that's a pretty sad indictment of the state of the industry.
In a lot of the commentary surrounding his article elsewhere, I saw all the usual chestnuts being trotted out by people misunderstanding the context of our discussions: A) the incredible time pressure we were under and B) that it was 1994. People always want to get in fights over the specifics like "what's wrong with templates?" without realizing the historical context. Guess what, you young punks, templates didn't work in 1994. They also like to throw stones at Mozilla, and how much 4.0 sucked and how mozilla.org decided they needed to rewrite it all in 1999, so that jwz code must not have been any good, right? The peanut gallery always fails to understand that I was talking about an entirely different code base that pretty much ceased to exist by early 1996, thanks to the (at the time completely unwarranted) Collabra rewrite, and that has never been seen by the outside world.
Around 1998 I pushed for Netscape to open source both the 3.0 and 4.0 code bases, since the 3.0 code base was the one that included a mail reader that actually worked, but they wouldn't let me do it.
Peter wrote his own response to Joel's article that goes into more detail with some more excerpts from the book.
I really enjoyed reading Peter's book, by the way. (The parts that I'm not in, I mean.) You should buy it.