16 December 2010

An Once of Prevention

Andy Lester is a Perl coder, and I loath Perl, so there has to be a good reason for me to mention him.  And that reason is a posting of his, linked from Artima, which contains the following:

This person was one of those programmers who tried for the premature optimization of saving some typing. He forgot that typing is the least of our concerns when programming. He forgot that programmer thinking time costs many orders of magnitude more than programmer typing time, and that the time spent debugging can dwarf the amount of time spent creating code.

Now, when I was young and impressionable, the notion that a developer is paid to think, and not to type, was widely accepted.  But I've certainly noted that in recent years, java perhaps the culprit, lots o typing is now the metric.  LOC rules, even if most are worthless.  Moreover, development by debugging is also normative.  Ick.

What might this have to do with the point of this endeavor, you may be asking?  Simply that declarative data is so much lazier than typing, and that a BCNF schema is easy to modify (since there aren't covariances to worry about).  It does require some forethought, what Spolsky calls BDUF (you should look it up, if it's foreign), but that forethought isn't carved in stone, rather a strategic battle plan which permits many tactics.  The "Agile" meme appears to have eaten its children, in that its zealots really, really do believe that all projects can be built from daily hacks by masses of coders.  Ick; double Ick. 

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