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Comment: Re:why does programming stinks today, an opinion (Score 5, Insightful) 585

by noonien_soong (#8625815) Attached to: Why Programming Still Stinks
Let me get this straight. You're 19 years old, you've played around with computers a little bit "in your day," you've read some Knuth, and you're smart enough that you've come to see yourself as superior to the average blue-collar worker. This gives you so much insight into the world of software engineering that you can discern exactly what the problem is---programmers aren't as smart as you are, and if they were, software wouldn't suck. Would you say that's a fair characterization of your argument? Because that's how you come off.

The first thing you have to realize is that software is being written at a much higher rate now than it was back in the days when programmers were physicists and mathematicians. That's because it no longer takes a rocket scientist to write a program, and that is a Good Thing (TM). If the programming learning curve hadn't come down, we wouldn't be living in the wonderful information society that we are today, because there simply aren't enough rocket scientists to hammer out every PHP script and database app one might desire. The technical aptitude of the people working on the foundations of computing is certainly not degrading as programming becomes more democratized, because those people's talent and skills are not forged in some intro programming class. Every hacker knows he learned his art outside the classroom. So it's not exactly logical to assume that colleges could turn out a crop of brilliant innovators if only they used Haskell, read Knuth, and taught all their CS students physics and numerical analysis on the side. Clearly, what would actually happen if one simply cut the lowly Java-bred programmers out of the programming craft is that a lot less bad software would be written, a little less good software would be written, and all of it would cost more. That's not exactly an improvement.

None of this is to say that there are not pervasive (and addressable) problems in modern software engineering. Those problems are simply much more endemic to the state of the art of programming than they are to any particular group of people. As many have pointed out, software today is brittle. It is frequently opaque, offering users and programmers alike only the most rudimentary means of debugging. The bread and butter software used by everyone everyday is often monolithic, designed for one purpose and impossible to customize without intensive study. Think about it for a moment, and you'll realize that much of the functionality of a typical document-editing application is duplicated in any other. In principle, such functionality could be factored out. But I can't digress too far into that here - let me continue with the list of reasons why software sucks. Integrated development environments give programmers a view of a project that scares poorly with complexity, software is incredibly difficult to build from source (unless you use Java--heaven forbid that should find its way into the bubble of intellectual purity you inhabit), and perhaps worst of all, the design decisions and architecture of software are usually not expressed clearly anywhere except in source code, where they are obscured by all manner of syntactic complexities, compiler optimizations, and details that aren't significant to the overall intent of the code. These things--all the things that make software complex, which make it difficult for groups to work together on large software projects (as you would understand if you'd ever worked on one)-- are some of the real hurdles to be overcome in software engineering. ITT Tech and outsourcing to India are NOT the problem.

I haven't said much about how to solve any of these problems. But I've said a lot, so I'm going to stop now. I highly encourage you to get some more experience and perspective before you make sweeping and arrogant generalizations. College-aged know-it-alls with overblown rhetoric are a dime a dozen. Real problem solvers are rare.

God is real, unless declared integer.

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