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4 points by rocketnia 2475 days ago | link | parent

Successful upgrade is worse, causes complacency. Using abstractions without understanding is cargo-culting. We've all done it.

I accept the risk of not being an expert in everything I'm using. Otherwise I'd never attempt anything, and I'd never learn. :)

It does go against my grain in a certain way: I like to build things that are precisely what I want, so it's bothersome for those things to depend on anything I don't control. However, usually I don't care about the whole codebase being precise, just the observable outcome of it.

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Easier to learn up front than debug later, to learn in isolation than in a big system.

I think that's the opposite of your point. I take it by "big system" you mean a large group of concepts with so much interconnectedness between them that it's hard to understand any one concept before understanding them all. But you've mainly been saying you'd rather people not think of each other's code as being separate from theirs. That you'd rather have all the code in a project be developed as one big system.

Well, maybe your ideal scenario is for each borrowable codebase to be a small system, such that people can easily learn it and integrate it into their big-system applications. But what about a borrowable codebase that depends on another borrowable codebase? If that project treats the depended-upon codebase as its own code, it'll become a big system, and it'll be harder to borrow. If instead it just comes with advice about what dependencies to track down to get it to work, it's back to cargo-culting.

Also, if my own application is a big system (thanks to all the borrowed code I've added), that's bound to be annoying to me when I try to understand it in six months.

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I can try this in arc because: it's dynamic; few and concise libs, less catching up; we've often ignored bc.

The last two are probably related. :) With a smaller quantity of well-borrowed code to break and with more of it being easy to fix, there's less short-term value in preserving backward compatibility.

I agree about it being healthier not to promise or rely on backward compatibility. I think there is a language trait that can actively help with that: hackability. If my code can load versions two and three of a library and patch them together, then I don't have to go patch them together on a textual level and drastically increase the amount of code and complexity that belongs to my project.

Of course, even with hackability handy, it's still possible to take full ownership of certain pieces of borrowed code when it makes more sense to do that, so it's not like we have to choose. :) And both of these approaches are taken in Arc programming already.

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Community is lower priority for now. Let's see what happens.

Well, I consider myself to be programming for the community of all my future selves. ^^ It's 'cause I have a lot of concrete project ideas that are too grandiose for me to have fun working on right away. In the occasional case I decide to implement one of the more urgent or less fickle ideas, it really pays off that I've amassed a lot of abstract, future-proofed libraries in the meantime. So I'm often interested in developing things that make future-proofing itself easier, like module systems. Ironically, they have the most immediate use for me.



3 points by akkartik 2474 days ago | link

There is no borrow. When i see external code that may be useful to my pgm i want to understand it, tailor it for my needs, prune the unnecessary.

I want to see how long I can keep the codebase small.

You don't return to all your code. 90% of my code never gets read again. Not worth thinking about.

When I do return to old code I lately have no trouble. I think it's the unit tests. Little easily digestible atoms of semantics.

If everyone does this less code will be shared, but shared code will become more timeless. Easy to return to it in six months.

You don't have to be an expert in other people's code, design decisions, error paths. Just concepts and happy paths. So you see opportunities to delete.

Perhaps borrowing code is also learned from static languages. Just a delete-if loop in c can be nontrivial to read.

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2 points by rocketnia 2474 days ago | link

We're really getting to the heart of things now, I think. :)

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There is no borrow. When i see external code that may be useful to my pgm i want to understand it, tailor it for my needs, prune the unnecessary.

That's one kind of borrowing, as far as I'm concerned. All I'm talking about is tech one person comes up with first and another person takes advantage of. Whether it's called code reuse or borrowing or whatever doesn't matter to me.

Borrowing code is essential for arriving at the best combinations of ideas. Two heads are better than one and all that.

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I want to see how long I can keep the codebase small.

I want my code to be small only because I want it to be valuable to me when I go back to read it. Value comes first.

And on that topic...

You don't return to all your code. 90% of my code never gets read again. Not worth thinking about.

...if I believed that, then maybe I wouldn't even care if my code were small. :)

I return to my code more and more as I've developed better tools to future-proof it. If any piece of code isn't worth returning to, then why was it written in the first place?

Okay, maybe for one-shot scripts or something. ^_^ Like I said, I primarily write abstract, generalized code (or at least that's what I perceive I do).

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When I do return to old code I lately have no trouble. I think it's the unit tests. Little easily digestible atoms of semantics.

Comments are good for that too, but unit tests are certainly easier to keep up-to-date. :)

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If everyone does this less code will be shared, but shared code will become more timeless. Easy to return to it in six months.

You don't have to be an expert in other people's code, design decisions, error paths. Just concepts and happy paths. So you see opportunities to delete.

I think we're on common ground here. ^_^

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Perhaps borrowing code is also learned from static languages. Just a delete-if loop in c can be nontrivial to read.

It took me a Google search to find the meaning of 'delete-if, but I get it now. :) http://www.ai.mit.edu/projects/iiip/doc/CommonLISP/HyperSpec...

What do you mean by a static language? You keep referring to static and dynamic languages, but in my experience "dynamic language" is a term for a language with dynamic typing. I think C loop boilerplate is something to blame on the lack of a convenient closure/block syntax, not the type system.

If by "static language" you mean a language that can't be changed, that makes way more sense. But even in a language like Arc that's open to customization, we still share code.

Actually, you probably mean something different by "borrow" too, such as using code as a black box. In that case, you make sense again. :-p

The full translation is "Perhaps the practice of taking code for granted has come from a history full of languages where code isn't formatted in a personalizable enough way for its purpose to be clear." I don't want to put words in your mouth, though. XD

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3 points by akkartik 2471 days ago | link

(Ok, back to the land of internet.)

"Perhaps the practice of taking code for granted has come from a history full of languages where code isn't formatted in a personalizable enough way for its purpose to be clear."

Yep. There's more pressure to take code for granted in languages so verbose that everything is non-trivial to read. It seems to have been a slippery slope from having such languages to assuming take-for-granted-ability was an unabashed virtue.

That is perhaps the biggest disadvantage of C and relatives[1]: they kept programmers from bulking up on their reading muscles, the ability to read concise code patterns at a glance. Perhaps this is partly what Dijkstra was referring to as 'brain damage'. (http://www.cs.utexas.edu/~EWD/transcriptions/EWD04xx/EWD498....) [2] Fortunately it is curable, no matter what he said.

[1] What I was referring to as static languages, where functions can't be redefined dynamically.

[2] In seeking out this reference I just found a Dijkstra quote about the brain damage done by lisp! http://www.cs.utexas.edu/users/EWD/transcriptions/EWD09xx/EW...

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