A thread on HN about bad code in legacy projects both makes me think how little we've learned as a discipline over the years and, honestly, how little credit we give ourselves for some pretty major

Fun going down this list and thinking: "Hmm, plausible at a well-run modern software shop", "Hmm, possible, but requires implausible tradeoffs", "Literally disallowed by languages", and "If you were to attempt doing that our test suite wouldn't let you merge."
I think we as an industry celebrate (not quite the right word) failure too much and don't celebrate success nearly enough. There is no DailyWTF for competent execution, word of which generally stays pretty local to the source while incompetence passes into legend.
Alrighty let me try to thread the needle on being the change I want to see in the world while not giving away anything that will get me in trouble:
Ruby has wonderful developer ergonomics. Typed languages are easier for machines to guarantee the correctness of. We built a type checker for Ruby (and I believe it is slated for OSS release sometime).

c.f. https://t.co/S5XIDxFUrH
We have an infrastructure at work which allows one to specify an invariant about not just code but e.g. objects or the environment and then have a range of response options if that invariant changes.

(Parallel evolution of code: I wrote a less-well-specified one at last gig.)
Git, continuous integration, and workflow-driven mandatory code reviews are all younger that the Joel Test, at least insofar as them being common features of median-sophistication engineering shops.
It is not astonishing to start a new engineering job in 2018 and have a developer environment which reasonably approximates the production environment available on one's laptop or tested, repeatable ways to spin up and spin down a new server w/o "build it by hand."
It is highly likely that a service which is hard down learns of that fact faster than Twitter can apprise them of it, assuming that service is operated in a professional fashion.

At risk of stating the obvious: this is a relatively novel development.
The industry has decisively adopted:

* a single, common encoding for almost all human languages
* a single, parseable, human-readable data interchange format
* a default protocol for information transport
You can round to "Any new application talking to any application written by a competent team in last 10 years will be talking to it over an encrypted link which neither side had to think deeply about because the technology is reliable, ubiquitous, and uncontroversially legal."
While it's not literally the case that you could replicate an entire modern software company's deployment for zero dollars in software licenses, that can almost round to true, due to the pervasive use of OSS.

This is very good for learners.
You can get a full development environment capable of doing Hello World spun up in your well-supported language of choice in, almost certainly, less than ten minutes of effort (contingent on you using a Mac, sadly).
The majority case for libraries, APIs, and file formats of interest to you will overwhelmingly be "If you Google the thing you want you get exactly what you need very, very quickly."

More from Patrick McKenzie

There are a *lot* of software shops in the world that would far rather have one more technical dependency than they'd like to pay for one of their 20 engineers to become the company's SPOF expert on the joys of e.g. HTTP file uploads, CSV parsing bugs, PDF generation, etc.


Every year at MicroConf I get surprised-not-surprised by the number of people I meet who are running "Does one thing reasonably well, ranks well for it, pulls down a full-time dev salary" out of a fun side project which obviates a frequent 1~5 engineer-day sprint horizontally.

"Who is the prototypical client here?"

A consulting shop delivering a $X00k engagement for an internal system, a SaaS company doing something custom for a large client or internally facing or deeply non-core to their business, etc.

(I feel like many of these businesses are good answers to the "how would you monetize OSS to make it sustainable?" fashion, since they often wrap a core OSS offering in the assorted infrastructure which makes it easily consumable.)

"But don't the customers get subscription fatigue?"

I think subscription fatigue is far more reported by people who are embarrassed to charge money for software than it is experienced by for-profit businesses, who don't seem to have gotten pay-biweekly-for-services fatigue.
I like this heuristic, and have a few which are similar in intent to it:


Hiring efficiency:

How long does it take, measured from initial expression of interest through offer of employment signed, for a typical candidate cold inbounding to the company?

What is the *theoretical minimum* for *any* candidate?

How long does it take, as a developer newly hired at the company:

* To get a fully credentialed machine issued to you
* To get a fully functional development environment on that machine which could push code to production immediately
* To solo ship one material quanta of work

How long does it take, from first idea floated to "It's on the Internet", to create a piece of marketing collateral.

(For bonus points: break down by ambitiousness / form factor.)

How many people have to say yes to do something which is clearly worth doing which costs $5,000 / $15,000 / $250,000 and has never been done before.
So the cryptocurrency industry has basically two products, one which is relatively benign and doesn't have product market fit, and one which is malignant and does. The industry has a weird superposition of understanding this fact and (strategically?) not understanding it.


The benign product is sovereign programmable money, which is historically a niche interest of folks with a relatively clustered set of beliefs about the state, the literary merit of Snow Crash, and the utility of gold to the modern economy.

This product has narrow appeal and, accordingly, is worth about as much as everything else on a 486 sitting in someone's basement is worth.

The other product is investment scams, which have approximately the best product market fit of anything produced by humans. In no age, in no country, in no city, at no level of sophistication do people consistently say "Actually I would prefer not to get money for nothing."

This product needs the exchanges like they need oxygen, because the value of it is directly tied to having payment rails to move real currency into the ecosystem and some jurisdictional and regulatory legerdemain to stay one step ahead of the banhammer.

More from Tech

These past few days I've been experimenting with something new that I want to use by myself.

Interestingly, this thread below has been written by that.

Let me show you how it looks like. 👇🏻


When you see localhost up there, you should know that it's truly an experiment! 😀


It's a dead-simple thread writer that will post a series of tweets a.k.a tweetstorm. ⚡️

I've been personally wanting it myself since few months ago, but neglected it intentionally to make sure it's something that I genuinely need.

So why is that important for me? 🙂

I've been a believer of a story. I tell stories all the time, whether it's in the real world or online like this. Our society has moved by that.

If you're interested by stories that move us, read Sapiens!

One of the stories that I've told was from the launch of Poster.

It's been launched multiple times this year, and Twitter has been my go-to place to tell the world about that.

Here comes my frustration.. 😤

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