Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Nothing In Proportion, Everything In Moderation

I continually verbally spar with Eric about various code conventions, procedures, frameworks, ideas, and whatever else related to programming. Strong vs. dynamic typing, variable names, unit testing, you name it, we've debated it. Eric and John were tossing some ideas and articles back and forth in the campfire, and Eric sent over a link asking for my opinion. I read the article, but my net takeaway was neither positive nor negative.why the lucky stiff just argues (in his silly way) against unit testing and the bias against hacks and code tricks. But he doesn't mention context. Would he put that 5-line hack in a high-traffic ecommerce site? 

The oversight is common among programming articles; all too often they preach a single idea as The Path. The real path is that there is no path; you have to think before you leap. It's not some Indiana Jones leap of faith thing. Do you really want to write unit tests for your RoR blog? Or do you want to put in a really nifty hack in an accounts-payable system or anti-spyware code? 

Then John hit me with some of his brilliance:

FxBx: "to each his own, except for YOU." is what Fufflebee said.
FxBx: Some persons can't think
FxBx: They need to know what Microsoft and Apple are doing
FxBx: and copy for their own arts

He's right, of course. Those people are in the 80%, as defined by Jeff Atwood. By definition, the 80% aren't going to be smart; they're just doing to do. So maybe these "leap of faith" articles have a better chance of reaching the 80%. 

What's my point? I'm not sure really. Us in the 20% (I'm fairly certain I'm at the bottom of it) will continue to debate about all sorts of high-falootin' ideas, and those in the 80% will keep plugging along. 

Post a Comment
All rights reserved. Take that!