Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Well put Mr. Percival, well put!

Think before you code: "In a recent article about Y Combinator, Paul Graham pointed to the fact that two people had written 40,000 lines of code in three months as a sign that they were doing something right; he went on to point out that 'you never see that in a big company'. To me this number is, if anything, a sign that things are going horribly wrong: Anyone who is consistenly writing more than 5,000 lines of code per month is either (a) not working on a problem which is difficult enough to be interesting (any half-competent programmer can write binary searches, quicksorts, and depth-first graph traversals at a rate of thousands of lines of code per day); (b) utterly incompetent (we've all seen people who can replace ten lines of working code with a thousand lines of buggy code); or (c) going to have to throw out and rewrite most of their code once they realize that it doesn't solve the problem which they needed to solve -- with this realization most likely coming after their first release.
"Write code" is definitely important. "Release early", too. But more important than either of those is "Understand the problem you're trying to solve"; and most important of all: "Do it right".

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