Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Fighting the Culture of 'Worse Is Better'

An anonymous reader writes: Developer Paul Chiusano thinks much of programming culture has been infected by a "worse is better" mindset, where trade-offs to preserve compatibility and interoperability cripple the functionality of vital languages and architectures. He says, "[W]e do not merely calculate in earnest to what extent tradeoffs are necessary or desirable, keeping in mind our goals and values -- there is a culture around making such compromises that actively discourages people from even considering more radical, principled approaches." Chiusano takes C++ as an example, explaining how Stroustrup's insistence that it retain full compatibility with C has led to decades of problems and hacks. He says this isn't necessarily the wrong approach, but the culture of software development prevents us from having a reasoned discussion about it. "Developing software is a form of investment management. When a company or an individual develops a new feature, inserts a hack, hires too quickly without sufficient onboarding or training, or works on better infrastructure for software development (including new languages, tools, and the like), these are investments or the taking on of debt. ... The outcome of everyone solving their own narrow short-term problems and never really revisiting the solutions is the sea of accidental complexity we now operate in, and which we all recognize is a problem."

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