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Everything I Know About Programming

12 replies on 1 page. Most recent reply: Jul 21, 2005 5:50 PM by Warren Baird

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Christopher Diggins

Posts: 1215
Nickname: cdiggins
Registered: Feb, 2004

Everything I Know About Programming (View in Weblogs)
Posted: Jul 15, 2005 1:16 AM
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Summary
Everything I know about programming in bullet form.
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After twenty years of programming, my knowledge can be summed up in four points:
  • code will change
  • code is harder to read than to write
  • if you haven't tested it, it's probably wrong
  • it will take twice as long as you think
That's everything I know, depressing isn't it?

Any other fundamental truths you have?

Postscript

This is actually a follow-up to my first O'Reilly Blog post. Stay tuned in to find out why I now also have a blog at O'Reilly.


Christian Theune

Posts: 3
Nickname: theuni
Registered: Feb, 2005

Re: Everything I Know About Programming Posted: Jul 15, 2005 2:52 AM
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If you tested it, you still need to change it at least
3-4 times until the customer is satisfied with your
original solution. :)

Vincent O'Sullivan

Posts: 724
Nickname: vincent
Registered: Nov, 2002

Re: Everything I Know About Programming Posted: Jul 15, 2005 5:06 AM
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<ul>
<li>it will take twice as long as you think</li>
</ul>

> ...depressing isn't it?

Only twice as long? Sounds optimistic to me.

Kristian Dupont

Posts: 22
Nickname: chryler
Registered: Dec, 2003

Re: Everything I Know About Programming Posted: Jul 15, 2005 10:10 AM
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I also know that once I am done coding something, the ultimate design will reveal itself to me.

Christopher Diggins

Posts: 1215
Nickname: cdiggins
Registered: Feb, 2004

Re: Everything I Know About Programming Posted: Jul 15, 2005 10:11 AM
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> <ul>
> <li>it will take twice as long as you think</li>
> </ul>
>
> > ...depressing isn't it?
>
> Only twice as long? Sounds optimistic to me.

I agree. Twice sounded better than N log N. ;-)

Christopher Diggins

Posts: 1215
Nickname: cdiggins
Registered: Feb, 2004

Re: Everything I Know About Programming Posted: Jul 15, 2005 10:12 AM
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> I also know that once I am done coding something, the
> ultimate design will reveal itself to me.

That's right, at which point I ofte end up rewriting everything from scratch!

Frank Wilhoit

Posts: 21
Nickname: wilhoit
Registered: Oct, 2003

Re: Everything I Know About Programming Posted: Jul 15, 2005 11:59 AM
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If code takes longer to read and understand than it took to write, then complexity was not properly managed in its design.

If, having first read and understood the code, you have to test it to tell whether it is right, then it is not properly documented.

Matt Gerrans

Posts: 1152
Nickname: matt
Registered: Feb, 2002

Re: Everything I Know About Programming Posted: Jul 17, 2005 4:22 AM
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This and Christopher's first four items under a fuzzy photo of a guy sitting in front of a BSOD would make a great poster. Reminds me of those "demotivational" posters.

Sandesh

Posts: 2
Nickname: stattit
Registered: Jul, 2004

Re: Everything I Know About Programming Posted: Jul 18, 2005 12:54 PM
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How about

The problem is always in your code (don't blame the OS, the
library, etc.)

Regards
Sandesh

Michael Becker

Posts: 1
Nickname: michaelb
Registered: Jul, 2005

Re: Everything I Know About Programming Posted: Jul 19, 2005 6:30 AM
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It will take twice as long as you think, even if you take this rule into account.

Michael

Posts: 12
Nickname: target
Registered: Jan, 2005

Re: Everything I Know About Programming Posted: Jul 19, 2005 11:04 AM
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> The problem is always in your code (don't blame the OS,
> the library, etc.)

Yeah, this is proven rule.

One more:
Code quality will suffer over time despite all effort

Kent Schnaith

Posts: 3
Nickname: windchill
Registered: Mar, 2004

Re: Everything I Know About Programming Posted: Jul 19, 2005 5:13 PM
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Hofstadter's Law: "It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter's Law".

(from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_Hofstadter)

Warren Baird

Posts: 5
Nickname: wjbaird
Registered: Jul, 2005

Re: Everything I Know About Programming Posted: Jul 21, 2005 5:50 PM
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> The problem is always in your code (don't blame the OS,
> the
> library, etc.)

Hmm. For the current project I'm working on, I've had to fix problems in the compiler (gcc) once, problems in libstdc++ twice, work around a linking problem in binutils that was causing constructors to not get called reliably, apply some OS patches, and twiddle a bunch of kernel parameters.

The problem isn't always in your code...

(After this experience, I can't imagine why anyone would voluntarily develop on HP-UX)

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