Comments on book review - (nf)

Henry Spencer henry at utzoo.UUCP
Sat May 19 06:35:02 AEST 1984

To rephrase my previous statement:  just because personal factors are
important does *NOT* mean they are the only important factors.  It is
an objectively-verifiable fact that some peoples' preferred styles of
programming turn out code that is poorer, by almost any realistic
measure, than other peoples' preferred styles.  It is true that personal
factors are important and programmers should have reasonable freedom
to work in the way that is most effective for them.  This does *NOT*
imply that they should have freedom to produce unreadable, unmaintainable
swill rather than clean, high-quality code.  And some people will do
exactly that if you let them.

   .....You should use whatever method gets the results you need, preferably
   minimizing over pain to you....

What about minimizing over pain to the other folks who are going to have
to maintain your code after you're gone, or maximizing over quality?  If
I have to go out of my way and undergo pain to meet these objectives, I do.
To my mind this is one of the major differences between professional-quality
work and junk:  concern for issues beyond personal convenience.

   However, you should consider one thing that nobody seems to have mentioned:
   what do you want the code for? Is this an "I need it yesterday" program?
   Is it a program to experiment with a language? Maybe to experiment with a
   concept? Is it a tool you're going to use and probably modify later?

Experiments and quick kludges are often in a different category from
production software, but I know of a good many kludges that have been
pressed into "production" service because the resources to do them
over again, right, weren't available.  A professor of mine once commented
that quick kludges should be thrown out immediately once they have served
their original purpose.  Not just marked "do not use", mind you, but
physically destroyed. of the times I worked with a team......................
   .......................the other team members weren't capable of choosing
   an algorithm, and just barely capable of coding it [I got code from team
   members that wouldn't compile, for Finagle's sake!]. But this is just a
   case of fitting the programming style to the individual.

On the contrary, this is a fine example of what I've been saying.  I'm
sure some of those people thought their programming was just fine, thank
you, and any differences between you and them were all a matter of personal
				Henry Spencer @ U of Toronto Zoology

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