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My Secret Life as a Spaghetti Coder
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A while back I started a Twitter account with the idea of using it as a tumblelog for quotes about software that I wanted to highlight. Unfortunately, the small limit on the number of characters Twitter enforces didn't allow me to post entire quotes, much less attribute them.

Likewise, I don't like to have too many microposts on this blog, so I've decided to save them up and start a Quotables series. The idea is that I'll post quotes about programming that have one or more of the following attributes:
  1. I find funny
  2. I find asinine
  3. I find insightfully true
  4. And stand on their own, with little to no comment needed
Here's the first in that series. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did:
The odds of finding truly beautiful code in most production systems seem to be on par with the odds of finding a well-read copy of IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering in Paris Hilton's apartment.


If you can't make a decent web page in .NET you shouldn't be in the business.
-Commenter at Reddit or Digg (I can't seem to find it anymore, and I just copied the quote a couple of months ago)


You have to take responsibility for teaching yourself, and that is a far greater responsibility than skimming a book and fooling around copying and pasting code from web pages. You can't just take basic or even sketchy knowledge of how to program in one language and "transfer" it to another language. You think you can just "pick it up," but in reality you can't, and neither can I.


But the fatal flaw in the GoF book was that they included recipes. And many people thought they were the best part. Even now, you see books on Java design patterns that blindly mimic the structure of the examples in the GoF book (even though Java has some better mechanisms, like interfaces vs. pure virtual classes). Recipes bad. Because they suggest more than just a way to name common things. They imply (and put in you face) implementation details.

Because of meta-programming, many of the design patterns in the GoF book (especially the structural ones) have much simpler, cleaner implementations. Yet if you come from a weaker language, your first impulse is to implement solutions just as you would from the recipe.


At some point, you have to have the guts to go against the grain. Just because a "best practice" works for someone else at some other company doesn't necessarily make it a "best practice" for you and your company. A "proven methodology" isn't necessarily going to be a "proven methodology" for you. Have the guts to challenge the status quo. If it's not making you more efficient, it's likely hindering you. Refactor it out.
-Mike Hofer, Refactor Yourself


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