Your Coding Philosophies are Irrelevant

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Reference: Your Coding Philosophies are Irrelevant

James Hague:

Now imagine there are two finished apps that solve roughly identical problems. One is enjoyable to use and popular and making a lot of money. The other just doesn't feel right in a difficult to define way. One of these apps follows all of your development ideals, but which app is it? What if the successful product is riddled with singletons, doesn't check result codes after allocating memory (but the sizes of these allocations are such that failures only occur in pathological cases), and the authors don't know about test-driven development?

Imagine two pieces of medical equipment. One is easy to use, easy to clean, and always reliable. The other is buggy, has lots of crevices and corner which seem to collect infected goo, and needs constant maintenance. One of these apps was created by a rigorous design process, extensive testing, and built in an immaculate, air-conditioned factory manned by attractive MD/PhDs. The other was created in a basement from spare parts by a high school dropout with bad hygiene. What if the beautiful machine was created by the dropout?

Is it even possible? Is it possible that software can be successful over time if it is not well-built? In my experience, messy software eventually drags new development (including bug fixes) to a halt. Time needs to be invested in cleanup.

What I hear Hague saying is that some software architecture choices do not matter. This is true. But some do matter. They are not just important to you as a programmer. They are directly related to the number of bugs, the time it takes to fix a bug, and the time it takes to make a new feature. Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.