Humbling Experience

You know how it becomes customary for all software developers to whine about everyone else's code. Too complex. Too convoluted. Ad nauseam.

Well, read your own code.

Today, I was trying to retrofit some local file-reading capabilities in a system that was mostly meant to read stuff off of a network request. Since the network request bits are semi-auto-configured, I wanted the same capabilities for the local file-reading stuff. So, made an interface. This removed some bindings between the system and the application framework. Made it cleaner, more standalone, etc etc.

Then, in the bus, it hit me: bad idea. The system is completely dependent on the application framework anyways, because database tables/file names/etc. are all done according to an implicit convention that cannot be found outside said framework. So, all this wonderful isolation just made things more complex for no reason whatsoever. At worse, I should ask callers to supply the appropriate framework object and use it directly; if I need abstraction later, I can always put it there--later. Given that it's code for more junior programmers, why make it more complex than it needs to be? It's already a bit complex with a singleton spawning a query engine, which spawns a stateful query and a result.

In my defence, I got very little sleep yesterday :-)

In other news, I just ordered bunch of books from Amazon.ca. If you want some software-engineering-related or C++-related books, they have killer rebates right now (50% off selected books). Some of the books on sale are not that great (if I see one more "Enterprise Java with xyz" book, I'm going to hurl), but some others are the Herb Sutter classics, and some rather new books on working with legacy code and configuration management. I got myself the Sutter classic I didn't have, and "Working with Legacy Code", which is something I really need to read RFN. Especially since today, I was writing, effectively, legacy code, and it was my fault.

Also ordered a personal finance book, because it's tax season right now, and my new financial adviser seems to be determined in making me feel inferior. But looking back with a cool head, my gut feeling is that, besides a little bit of neglect (mostly money stuck in an ING account instead of invested in, say, a dividends fund), I've done pretty well. Probably the advisor's tactic was merely to try to sell me a credit line, something which I'm not really open to.

Finally, I realized, to my disappointment, that cool template tricks don't really do it for me anymore. I had the chance to get the Template Metaprogramming book 50% off, and I passed. It looks cool, but I have very dim hopes that I'll get to use it, because:

  1. It tortures compilers, including G++, and
  2. I don't think I'll ever be allowed to use this stuff except in a few toy or hobby projects, because it'll be very hard for any company I ever work for to find people able to understand this stuff.

In many companies, there's a "language guru" and a number of journey(wo)men. I've seen few places where there are many gurus (though Silanis was one of them at a time), and even then, they're hampered by management's fears that nobody will be able to figure out the code. A very sane fear in some ways, but not as much as one would think when you realize that code written by non-gurus tends to be as obscure as guru-code, except it's not because of mere technical proficiency reasons!

I also realized today that what I'd really like would be to rewrite my current company's codebase all in Python. But then, I'm sure nobody would want it, even though Python is easy, because we hired Java programmers, of course. Everyone's so damn specialized.

Well, that was today's rant. I need sleep. Especially since re-reading my previous lines makes me realize that the experience is having less and less of a humbling effect as I get riled up...

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