programming in the
twenty-first century

It's not about technology for its own sake. It's about being able to implement your ideas.

Hopefully More Controversial Programming Opinions

I read 20 Controversial Programming Opinions, and I found myself nodding "yes, yes get to the good stuff." And then, after "less code is better than more," it was over. It was like reading a list of controversial health tips that included "eat your veggies" and "don't be sedentary." In an effort to restore a bit of spark to the once revolutionary software development world, I present some opinions that are hopefully more legitimately controversial.

Computer science should only be offered as a minor. You can major in biology, minor in computer science. Major in art, minor in computer science. But you can't get a degree in CS.

It's a mistake to introduce new programmers to OOP before they understand the basics of breaking down problems and turning the solutions into code.

Complex compiler optimizations are almost never worth it, even if they result in faster code. They can disproportionately slow down the compiler. They're risky, in that a mishandled edge case in the optimizer may result in obscure, latent bugs in the application. They make reasoning about performance much more difficult.

You shouldn't be allowed to write a library for use by other people until you have ten years of programming under your belt. If you think you know better and ignore this rule, then one day you will come to realize the mental suffering that you have inflicted upon others, and you will have to live with that knowledge for the rest of your life.

Superficially ugly code is irrelevant. Pretty formatting--or lack thereof--has no bearing on whether the code works and is reliable, and that kind of mechanical fiddling is better left to an automated tool.

Purely functional programming doesn't work, but if you mix in a small amount of imperative code then it does.

A software engineering mindset can prevent you from making great things.

permalink August 29, 2012



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I'm James Hague, a recovering programmer who has been designing video games since the 1980s. Programming Without Being Obsessed With Programming and Organizational Skills Beat Algorithmic Wizardry are good starting points. For the older stuff, try the 2012 Retrospective.

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