Thursday, September 6, 2012

Pedantic arguments...

The above article has been sitting in my to-read pile for a little while.  I tend to superficially agree with the general sentiment about the topic that the author is arguing with.  (The comments make a better case about that particular issue) 

My particular take however is more about the fact that the author is fairly illiterate about the subtle issues of coding.  I think this is clear by the very basic nature of the quotes and comments that he uses to describe the nature of code.  It seems clear that he has not spent any time reading large bodies of code written by multiple authors. 

I have read large amounts of code, some of it by students still learning the art, so by working programmers and a little by various "masters".  The idea that there is only one way to express something in code is quite funny.  It demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of what a program is or does.

I find that more substantive programs ( a bit beyond the "Hello World" that the author quotes) are much closer to a dialog between the programmer and their user(s); be they man or machine.  There are an infinite number of ways to begin the conversation, deal with the twists and turns of the process and finally complete the exercise ( successfully or otherwise) 

The subtle issues with choice of architecture, how to structure modules or sections, choices of decomposition or the investment in comments within the code are all expressions of taste and style that have nothing to do with the fact that a computer is going to crunch the machine code.   They are individual expressions of the people who crafted the code, the constraints they worked within and the limitations of man, machine and language.  But most essentially, the communicated with audiences; the compiler, the machine, the frameworks, future maintenance programmers, their code reviewers, their future selves... they expressed everything from hope, optimism, frustration, clarity to insight, skill, mastery and obsessivness.

How can this be anything but prose?

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