Skip to main content

Balence, Tranquility, and SOAP

I am behind schedule with my work. I attribute a good bit of this to my vices as a developer, and just as much of the problem to my good attributes. I place an equal portion of the blame on SOAP.

Striving for the goal of Beautiful Code, we can find ourselves lost on the way to actually writing something that gets the job done. Throwing away perfectly working code, because an alternative way to achieve the same results is more elegant isn't something that we might see as a bad idea. If the code is more l33t now, it will give us less trouble tomorrow when we need to port it to my toaster. We'll use anything to justify the overworking for code beauty.

Is it always worth it? How beautiful is enough and when are we just wasting our time (and money)?

There are terms thrown around like "elegant" and "pythonic" to measure the quality of code with no attention to the code actually reaching the goal it sets out to perform. The code may work, but that doesn't make the code good code. Without a sense of time, scale, and the big picture, the search for good code can overshadow any good developer's work towards working code.

However, as any issue as a flip side, those developers getting lost are doing so in the name of a good fight: the first against bad code. We might get lost and never complete our code, or complete it late, but we do so with the complete belief that it was worth it. The code took several weeks longer to develop, but just look at how beautiful it is. Without the struggle for good code, our working, bad code would eventually overshadow us just as much and consume our time with maintenance, refactoring, and the mother of all frustrations in coding: trying to read your own work.

I am wrapping up some SOAP-heavy work and the path to completing it has been a testimony to the struggle of balance in code. Recent refactorings of the actual SOAP response processing ended with a good chunk of bad code. I don't like the way I'm doing lots of things, or the fact that it doesn't parse corner cases the service I'm using doesn't even use. The code is not the beautiful code I would like to call my own, but the code is working code and does everything it needs to do. I had to bite my own hand to keep the refactoring to a minimal and focus solely on the aspects of functional goals, ignoring aesthetics.

Be careful on the road to good code. Somewhere along the way, you can easily get lost and never reach the point of having actual, working product. Sure, the code will be incomplete, but it will be a fragment of beauty. Learn the value of a completed mediocre code set over the eternal development of more beautiful code, which does exactly the same thing.

Comments

Anonymous said…
HEAR HEAR!

Far be it from me to defend PHP, but those guys actually probably get more done then I do because they're willing to live with "bad" (ugly, inelegant, possibly even insecure or slow) code that still works!

This is indeed a balancing act... one that, if we are to be successful geniuses, we must learn and learn well. normally we can throw this back over the fence toward the project manager... but when the project manager is us, we're our own worst enemies!

isn't hacking fun?!

-j

Popular posts from this blog

Why I Switched From Git to Microsoft OneDrive

I made the unexpected move with a string of recent projects to drop Git to sync between my different computers in favor of OneDrive, the file sync offering from Microsoft. Its like Dropbox, but "enterprise."

Feeling a little ashamed at what I previously would have scoffed at should I hear of it from another developer, I felt a little write up of the why and the experience could be a good idea. Now, I should emphasize that I'm not dropping Git for all my projects, just specific kinds of projects. I've been making this change in habit for projects that are just for me, not shared with anyone else. It has been especially helpful in projects I work on sporadically. More on why a little later.

So, what drove me away from Git, exactly?

On the smallest projects, like game jam hacks, I just wanted to code. I didn't want to think about revisions and commit messages. I didn't need branching or merges. I didn't even need to rollback to another version, ever. I just …

Respect and Code Reviews

Code Reviews in a development team only function best, or possible at all, when everyone approaches them with respect. That’s something I’ve usually taken for granted because I’ve had the opportunity to work with amazing developers who shine not just in their technical skills but in their interpersonal skills on a team. That isn’t always the case, so I’m going to put into words something that often exists just in assumptions.
You have to respect your code. This is first only because the nature and intent of code reviews are to safeguard the quality of your code, so even having code reviews demonstrates a baseline of respect for that code. But, maybe not everyone on the team has the same level of respect or entered a team with existing review traditions that they aren’t acquainted with.
There can be culture shock when you enter a team that’s really heavy on code reviews, but also if you enter a team or interact with a colleague who doesn’t share that level of respect for the process or…

CARDIAC: The Cardboard Computer

I am just so excited about this.


CARDIAC. The Cardboard Computer. How cool is that? This piece of history is amazing and better than that: it is extremely accessible. This fantastic design was built in 1969 by David Hagelbarger at Bell Labs to explain what computers were to those who would otherwise have no exposure to them. Miraculously, the CARDIAC (CARDboard Interactive Aid to Computation) was able to actually function as a slow and rudimentary computer. 
One of the most fascinating aspects of this gem is that at the time of its publication the scope it was able to demonstrate was actually useful in explaining what a computer was. Could you imagine trying to explain computers today with anything close to the CARDIAC?

It had 100 memory locations and only ten instructions. The memory held signed 3-digit numbers (-999 through 999) and instructions could be encoded such that the first digit was the instruction and the second two digits were the address of memory to operate on. The only re…