Flutterby™! : Duct Tape Programmer

Next unread comment / Catchup all unread comments User Account Info | Logout | XML/Pilot/etc versions | Long version (with comments) | Weblog archives | Site Map | | Browse Topics

Duct Tape Programmer

2009-09-26 01:19:47.262867+00 by meuon 5 comments

Word of the day: Duct Tape Programmer - Makes me laugh and cry. Fun read. At the rate I'm implementing code into production right now, I feel like I am the grand wizard of duct tape programmers.

[ related topics: Software Engineering ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2009-09-28 16:32:02.908068+00 by: Dan Lyke

I think there's a balance there, that there are coders who can make stuff work but still leave room for future expansion, and coders who make stuff work at the expense of everything else, but one of my complaints with C++ is that it encourages the architecture weenies to overanalyze the hell out of everything and never actually ship code.

And C# in the VisualStudio environment encourages the "fast to ship" at the expense of maintenance.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-09-28 18:12:32.559694+00 by: Shawn

I'm with Dan in believing there's a happy medium here - and that there's a time and a place for each. Personally, think this article is more about our (U.S.) society, and it's emphasis on wealth and instant gratification, than it is about programming.

Contrary to what the subject of the article says, I write code to build something useful, stable, secure, etc. Sure, I get paid to ship code, but that's not why I got into this industry - or continue to sit in front of the keyboard in my off-time. Perhaps I'm stranger even than I think, but why I desire t do a thing has precious little to do with getting paid to do it.

At the moment I'm neck deep in a "Duct Tape programming" culture. After spending 5 years trying to inject even the minutest amount of architectural design that could bring real security, stability and a bit of cohesiveness to our many disparate apps across the organization, I've come to the conclusion that this is no longer a healthy place for me to be. The "pretty boys" (from the article) are rewarded for making something that looks good - when what I see an app that's basically lucky. When server's go down these apps blow up - dumping the raw error to the browser. Security gets a token mention ("we disabled the browser's back button to prevent another user from seeing the password [which we're allowing the user to type in the clear]"). Etc., etc.

For me this article supports my own observations that businesses want Duct Tape programming. But there's more to life than what businesses want.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-09-28 18:45:18.990943+00 by: Dan Lyke

Shawn, I think it's reasonable to stay that businesses want products deployed as cheaply as possible. Same reason we can buy appliances engineered for exactly the warranty length, and why we buy stuff at Wal*Mart: There's no good way for us to evaluate the long-term effects of a solution when the technology is changing way faster than the product life-cycle, and actual value is obscured by market-speak.

If the company won't survive for two years, nobody cares what the code base is going to look like 10 years from now. Great coders can merge the two concepts fairly well, but the user cares mostly that they can do new stuff.

I also think that this is why entrenched companies often go under: Being first-to-market often means that you have architectural issues which won't stand three or four releases, on the other hand you definitely can't wait 'til version 3 to ship.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-09-28 19:02:20.493902+00 by: meuon

Shawn, I'm/it's not as bad as you were describing.. at least, not in the last few years..

#Comment Re: made: 2009-09-29 17:08:55.981079+00 by: Dan Lyke

JWZ has an amusing response:

It's such a strange article, in that it's mostly favorable to my point of view but with such a breathless amazement to it, like he's just discovered an actual unicorn or something. "Look, everybody! Here's a hacker who actually accomplished things and yet he doesn't fetishize the latest fads that I and all of my friends make our living writing about!" ...