The most enduring software development techniques revealed at QCon London

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9 comments on this post.
  1. Clyde Davies:

    Amen to those sentiments. I think that when developers get to a certain level of maturity that it’s a real mistake to start to impose standards and methodologies upon them from above. I also find that system architects are probably the worst people for doing this in that they delight in telling devlopers how not to go about solving problems.

  2. Nico:

    Nice theorem!

    Something more radical, half tongue-in-cheek: if there’s no better name than “methodology” for something, don’t do it!

  3. Jeff Ratcliff:

    I like to turn the standard DRY argument on its head. With DRY you don’t have to add a bug to each and every file – you just create the bug once in a common function and it’s implemented everywhere with minimal effort.

  4. Malcolm Groves:

    Amen. I’ve always liked Process is no substitute for synaptic activity. Process can be swapped out for Frameworks, Best Practices, Tools, etc and it still holds true.

  5. Will Watts:

    A droll analysis. As a co-attendee of QCon, I’d say Greg Young was merely a releaser of squibs for effect. Any technique can be over-applied in theory; but I have yet to see this happen to DRY. AND he insisted on pronouncing Java ‘Yava’ – what was that all about? Irritated red touch on exit iPhone from me, doubtless swamped by approving green.

    A trend I have noticed among people demoing code techniques at this conference: how many are using a Windows machine to do the development? Answer, IME, so far, none at all – Macs all. This attending JavaScript-oriented talks, so theoretically no reason not to use Windows.

  6. tim:

    Microsoft is almost invisible here, even more so than in previous years.

    So which sessions got a green from you Will?


  7. Will Watts:

    The stuff that really floated my boat was the functional programming stream. Did you see the Guardian website’s Graham Tackley on Friday explain how they had switched from Java to Scala, with the result that they discovered that they stopped writing tons of grotty boilerplate, and instead were producing pithy, readable code that did the job? Fascinating, especially in teh context of a programming project with which one is familiar as a consumer.

    I also really enjoyed the Erlang lectures. Of course it was nice to hear inventor Joe Armstrong making his case, and ditto Damien Katz the CouchDB guy (CouchDB is written in Erlang); but the most striking advocacy – because unexpected – came from Jasper Richter-Reichhelm. He is a programmer for one of those companies that produce those vile (his description) FaceBook Flash games.

    The front end Flash part, he said, was of no particular interest. The interesting part was the back end. Here you need to keep your games app server up 24/7, it needs to be fast and be able to scale hugely. He described how, over the course of four game projects, they moved from PHP + MySQL (I think) to Ruby + MySQL, to Ruby + Redis (a memory database) to Erlang. Erlang brilliant (he said) with very many advantages: in-place code upgrade, faster than Ruby, CPU bound (it’s very good at exploiting multi-core), transactional logic for free with the programming model. Problem was: recruitment. Too few programmers know how to use it. So for their next game, they kept the transactional core and base architecture in Erlang, and pushed the games logic out into Ruby. All most interesting.

    In both cases – The Guardian and Wooga – it was very striking that the speakers were enjoying their programming, and were proud of what they had achieved. I’m off to get out my Joe Armstrong book and take another run at Erlang to see if I can’t crack it!

  8. tim:

    Thanks Will. Yes, I loved Tackley’s session and have a post coming I hope. Didn’t make the Erlang ones sadly.


  9. Anonymous Coward:

    Real software development concepts: composability, referential transparency (or at least separate pure from impure code). Everything else is secondary and material for sensationalist programmer wannabes like Greg Young.
    Mac vs Windows is completely irrelevant for software development, and the fact that you even mention it brings out to light your lack of general knowledge. Read Wadler’s papers; contrary to the general belief that academia lives in an ivory tower, they’re the ones that build upon no-nonsense concepts instead of chasing the latest RoR version just because it’s ‘cool’. That’s the *real stuff*.