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Two ways of thinking

I’ve used this idea in conversations for years, and can’t find a post on it, which I find surprising but there you go. There are, broadly speaking, two different ways to look at programming languages. And I think that these mean two different ways to select programming languages, which are asymmetric. However, they can lead […]

If Object-Oriented Programming were announced today

Here’s an idea: the current backlash against OOP is actually because people aren’t doing OOP, they’re doing whatever they were doing before OOP. But they’re calling it OOP, because the people who were promoting OOP wanted them to believe that they were already doing OOP. Why is that? Because the people who were promoting OOP […]

Open Source: because I got mine, so fuck you

The Free Software movement has at its core the idea that people have the freedom to use, study, share, and improve the software on their computers. The modern developer “ecosystem” has co-opted this to create a two-tier society: a developer has the freedom to use, study, share, and improve the tools and libraries that developer […]

Technical debt and jury service

We have the idea that in addition to the product development backlogs for our teams, there’s an engineering backlog where technical debt paydown, process/tooling improvements, and other sitewide engineering concerns get recorded. Working on them is done in time that is, by definition, taken away from the product backlogs (because of Sustainable Pace). A colleague […]

The worst phrase in software marketing

“Rewritten from the ground up”. Please. Your old version mostly worked, except for those few corner cases that I’d learned how to work around. Now I don’t know whether the stuff that did work does work now, and I don’t know that I’ll find that stuff in the same place any more. There’s a reason […]

Culture Smell

A phrase I used in a discussion today. Developers are familiar with “code smells”, aspects of a codebase that aren’t necessarily wrong but do make you take a deeper look. By analogy, a culture smell surprising, but not necessarily wrong, behaviour on a team that should make you wonder what motivations lead to that behaviour, […]

Literate Programming with LibreOffice

This post comes in the form of an OpenDocumentFormat document containing a program that can extract programs from ODF documents, including the program contained in this document.

Prototypical object-oriented programming

Some people think that the notion of classes is intrinsic to object-oriented programming. Bertrand Meyer even wrote a textbook about OOP called A Touch of Class. But back in the 1980s, Alan Borning and others were trying to teach object-oriented programming using the Smalltalk system, ostensibly designed to make simulation in computer programmers accessible to […]

In defence of assertions

The year is 2017 and people are still recommending processing out assertions from release builds. many assertions are short tests (whether or not that’s a good thing): this variable now has a value, this number is now greater than zero), which won’t cost a lot in production. Or at least, let me phrase this another […]

In defence of large teams

Seen on the twitters: 1) Bad reasons why tech startups have incredibly large mobile teams even though from an engineering perspective they don’t need it. This is the No True Scotsman fallacy, as no true software department needs more than, say, 20 people. I’m not going to get into the details of what you do […]