Friday, February 02, 2007

Art? I Choke!

After wading in a massive plate of spaghetti code that decency, more than professionalism, prevents me to disclose its origin, I came to the conclusion that I should never ever suggest that software development can be compared to an art. Never. Ever.

This opens the door to bad artists, the ones who do not care at all about the fact they are not alone on earth. No, in fact they do care about others but only when they will decide to expose their creation in the open ; and should the rest of the world dislike their masterpiece, these bad artists will turn depressed and start all over again. Alone. In isolation. Disregardful of the rest of the world.

And that is my point: as a software developer, we can not ignore the rest of the world and this at no point of our work. Not even before we think we can start showing something. And this is why:

  • There is no pride nor satisfaction in re-inventing the wheel. If you do like it, please get another job. Right from the very beginning of a project and constantly during the course of it should a software developer be aware (or at least do his bets to gain awareness) of what is going on elsewhere. Starting from the principle that there are many people that outsmart us out there (at least, there are many smarter than me) and that a piece of code that has been used and re-used and abused for a while is stronger than anything that could come out of our brain, we must do our best to figure out if something that does what we want has not already been written and published. Some call this prior art and this is the kind of art I can live with.

  • There is no pride nor satisfaction in clever coding. Come on, school is over, no need to hide from your neighbour. Code should go in the open, not necessarily outside of the company's network, of course, but it should be visible right from the beginning in whatever repository is in use. And it should be readable, understandable ; written like if it does matter that other people on earth can read it and still enjoy the rest of their day. After-hours code obfuscation is a modern form art and this is certainly another kind of art I can live with.
Not following these advices might spoil the lives of these others that surround us, something a genuine bad artist will not care about. But would he care if his masterpieces end up exposed in the Daily WTF?