Beautiful code…

August 14, 2007 at 11:33 am

O’reilly publishes Beautiful Code

Jonathan Edwards counters with a beautiful explanation.

Now, I haven’t read the new book, but I have a strong resonance with what Edwards wrote.  You should definitely read the whole thing, but I few sentences jumped out at me.

A lesson I have learned the hard way is that we aren’t smart enough. Even the most brilliant programmers routinely make stupid mistakes. Not just typos, but basic design errors that back the code into a corner, and in retrospect should have been obvious.


It seems that infatuation with a design inevitably leads to heartbreak, as overlooked ugly realities intrude. 


If there’s anything that agile says, it says that we should build things simply and with a eye to revision because we not only are we “just not smart enough”, there are too many unknowns when we start.

The problem with “beautiful code” as a concept is that it is closely related to “beautiful design”, and I’ve mostly come to the conclusion that any design effort that takes more than, say, 30 minutes is a waste of time.

The concept also gets confused about what the goal of software is anyway. The goal is not to have beautiful, elegant, code. The goal is to have *useful* code that does what you need it to do.

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