The World Wildlife Fund maintains a list of the five most endangered species on Earth. We recently started wondering what that list would look like if it listed developer “species” instead of animals and plants.

The nature of our industry is changing, and certain classes of developers are becoming rarer due to habitat destruction (lack of positions), low reproductive rates (schools are no longer turning them out), and a variety of other reasons. After giving the matter extensive, utterly serious consideration, I’ve prepared my list.

1. Institutional Developer
This species of developer is characterized by its tendency to choose a single home territory and inhabit it for a particularly long period of time. Eventually, these developers become intimately familiar with the corporate culture, business processes, strengths, and weaknesses of their territory. This species has been hit very hard in recent times by a combination of habitat destruction, trophy hunting, and competition by introduced species. Hunters often take the strongest individuals with the most impressive skill sets, often leaving the young without any guidance or protection.

The chief competing species, the Lesser Certificate Bearing Developer (which many consider to be a pest species), competes for territory with the Institutional Developer and has been able to displace it in many cases. Unfortunately, Institutional Developers usually do not do well when removed from their home territories: Their new surroundings are usually just too different or modern for them. To date, no agency has come forward and presented a plan to preserve this species, of which few are now left, so we may soon lose this fascinating developer for good.

2. Assembler Programmer
The Assembler Programmer, along with its subspecies, the Macro-level CICS Programmer, is known for the strange, yet elegant language it uses to communicate with others of its species. Researchers believe that members of this species are able to convey extremely large amounts of information using a language that contains only a handful of syllables. Unfortunately, this species has become extremely rare in the wild, often being replaced by C Programmers, C++ Programmers, or, in rare instances, White-crested UNIX-Shell Programmers. A precious few individuals have been taken from the wild to be preserved in captivity and studied. No recovery program exists yet for the Assembler Programmer.

3. dBase Developer
Once a thriving species, the dBase developer has been forced to the brink of extinction by the slow loss of habitat and near eradication of its primary food source, the DOS User. However, there may yet be hope for the FoxPro Developer subspecies. The population of FoxPro Developers in the wild remains strong, mostly due to a careful management program by Microsoft—which is ironic, considering that Microsoft is held by many to be the chief culprit in the DOS User’s decline.

4. COBOL Programmer
It’s sad that the COBOL Programmer, which was poised for such a fast recovery only a few years ago, has to be added to this list once again. Apparently, this species’ low reproductive rate has been unable to keep the population level. Prospects for the COBOL Programmer are further darkened by Java pollution throughout much of its home range. Although there are many individuals left in the wild, observers say that numbers have declined in recent years, and there simply are not many youngsters to be found.

5. Nine-to-Five Developer
The rapid disappearance of the Nine-to-Five Developer, known for its rambunctious play when not hunting, its good qualities as a mate, and its inclination to be a nurturing parent, is a mystery. Few individuals are seen in the species’ home range. Researchers are investigating the cause for the Nine-to-Five Developer’s sudden decline and feel that some environmental change may be responsible.

Do your part
Don’t let other endangered developer species go into quiet decline. E-mail us or post a comment below with your addition to the list or share your thoughts about those already on the list. By heightening awareness, you may help others appreciate these rare and interesting species.