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    Software correctness is not a developer decision, it’s largely a business decision guided by cost management. I mean depending on where you work and what you work on the software may be so stable that when you try to point out a problem the business will simply point out that the software is correct because it’s always correct and that you’re probably just not understanding why it is correct. Apps are buggy mostly when the costs of failure to the business are low or not felt by management.

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      Came here to say exactly this.

      There is no barrier to entry or minimum bar for consideration in software.

      So you end up with thousands of businesses saying variations of “our budget is $1000 and we want you to make a software that …”.

      Then of course you are going to see lots of failure in the resulting software.

      The choice often ends up being “spend 10,000x and make it super robust” or “live with bugs”.

      No business chooses the first option when you can say “oops sorry that was a bug we just fixed it. thank you! :)”.

      This pattern persists even as the cost of developing software comes down. Meaning if you reduce the cost of producing flawless software to $X the market will choose a much more buggy version that costs a fraction of $X because the cost of living with those bugs is still much lower than the cost of choosing a flawless one.

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        I recently moved to financial software development, and it seems everybody has real life experience of losing huge sums of money to a bug, and everybody, including management and trading, is willing to try practice to reduce bugs. So I became more convinced that it is the cost of bugs that matters.

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          While this is true, don’t you think this is sort of… pathetic? Pretty harsh, I couldn’t come up with a better word on the spot. What I mean is, this is basically “those damn suits made us do it”.

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            Not really.

            Would you like your mobile phone screen to be made bullet proof and have it cost $150M?

            Would you like an atomic bedside alarm clock for $500k?

            A light bulb that is guaranteed to not fail for 200 years for $1,000?

            It’s a real trade-off and there’s a line to be drawn about how good/robust/reliable/correct/secure you want something to be.

            Most people/businesses can live with software with bugs and the cost of aiming for no bugs goes up real fast.

            Taking serious steps towards improving software quality is very time consuming and expensive so even those basic first steps wont be taken unless it’s for something critical such as aircraft or rocket code.

            For non-critical software often there’s no huge difference between 0 bugs or 5 bugs or 20 bugs. So there isn’t a strong incentive to try so hard to reduce the bugs from their initial 100 to 10 (and to keep it there).

            The case that compels us to eliminate bugs is where it is something to the effect of “no bugs or the rocket crashes”.

            Also you have to consider velocity of change/iteration in that software. You can spend tons of resources and have your little web app audited and certified ast it is today but you have to think of something for your future changes and additions too.

            As the technology improves the average software should become better in the same way that the average pair of shoes or the average watch or the average tshirt becomes better.

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              Would you like your mobile phone screen to be made bullet proof and have it cost $150M?

              Quite exaggerated, but I get your point. The thing is — yes, I personally would like to pay 2-3x for a phone if I can be SURE it won’t degrade software-wise. I’m not worried about hardware (as long as the battery is replaceable), but I know that in 2-3 major OS updates it will feel unnecessarily slow and clunky.

              Also you have to consider velocity of change/iteration in that software

              Oh, man, that’s whole other story… I can’t remember the last time I wanted software to update. And the only two reasons I do update usually are:

              1. It annoys me until I do;
              2. It will hopefully fix some bugs introduced due to this whole crazy update schedule in the first place.

              Most people/businesses can live with software with bugs and the cost of aiming for no bugs goes up real fast.

              Which brings us back to my original point: we got used to it and we don’t create any significant pressure.

          2. 1

            Businesses that allow buggy code to ship should probably be shamed into better behavior. They exist because the bar is low, and would cease to exist with a higher bar. Driving them out of business would be generally desirable.

            A boycott would need to start or be organized by developers, since developers are the only people who know the difference between a circumstance where a high-quality solution is possible but difficult, a circumstance where a high-quality solution is trivial but rare for historical reasons, and a situation where all solutions are necessarily going to run up against real, mathematical restrictions.

            (Also, most code in existence isn’t being developed in a capitalist-corporate context, and the most important code – code used by everybody – isn’t being developed in that context either. We can and should expect high quality from it, because there’s no point at which improving quality becomes “more than my job’s worth”.)

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            it’s largely a business decision guided by cost management.

            I don’t agree about the cost management reasoning. Rather it is a business decision that follows what customers actually want. And customers actually do prefer features over quality. No matter how much it hurts our pride in craftsmanship…

            The reason we didn’t see it before software is that other fields simply don’t have this trade off as an option: buildings and cars can’t constantly grow new physical features.

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              Speed / Quality / Cost

              Pick two

              You can add on features to cars, and buildings, and the development process does sometimes go on and on forever. The difference is if your cow clicker game has a game breaking bug, typically nobody literally dies. There exists software where people do die if there are serious bugs and in those scenarios they either compromise in speed or cost.

              We’ve seen this before software in other fields, and they do have this trade off as an option, you just weren’t in charge of building it. The iron triangle predates software though I do agree scope creep is a bigger problem in software it is also present in other industries.

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              I agree. I suppose this is another thing that we should make clear to the general public.

              But the problem I’m mostly focusing on is the problem of huge accidental complexity. It’s not business or management who made us build seemingly infinite layers and abstractions.

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                It’s not business or management who made us build seemingly infinite layers and abstractions.

                Oh it definitely was. The waterfall process, banking on IBM/COBOL/RPG, CORBA, endless piles of objects everywhere, big company apps using obfuscated formats/protocols, Java/.NET… these were middle managers and consultants forcing bullshit on developers. Those bandwagons are still going strong. Most developers stuck on them move slower as a result. The management solution is more bullshit that looked good in a PowerPoint or sounded convincing in a strip club with costs covered by a salesperson. The developers had hardly any say in it at all.

                With that status quo, we typically are forced to go with two options: build the new thing on top of or within their pile of bullshit; find new niches or application areas that let us clean slate stuff. Then, we have to sell them on these whether internally or externally. Doing that for stuff that’s quality-focused rather than feature/buzzword-focused is always an uphill battle. So, quality-focused software with simple UI’s aren’t the norm. Although developers and suppliers cause problems, vast majority of status quo is from demand side of consumers and businesses.

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                  It isn’t? Most managers I’ve met come and see me saying, we dont want to have to think about this, so build on top of this abstraction of it. They definitely do not want us wiping the slate clean and spending a lot of time rebuilding it anew, that would be bad for business.

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                We know how to produce software that doesn’t fail. It’s not particularly easy or fast or cheap but we can do it.

                The practical reality is software that “doesn’t fail” is rarely genuinely demanded or needed. So the market doesn’t ask or pay for it.

                Even when businesses demonstrate an initial interest in the idea they will immediately back down as soon as they face the reality of various costs of producing such a thing. Their expression of interest is mostly just a big wish.

                If someone’s paying $10k for let’s say a custom Wordpress plugin to be made in 2 weeks, would they be interested in a much more secure and much less buggy version that costs $10M that is made in 2 years? No. They don’t really want it and they don’t really need it.

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                  This is true, but it’s also very true that many of the costs of shit software are externalized (THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED “AS IS”, WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, TITLE AND NON-INFRINGEMENT), and so no, that $10k spent doesn’t actually cover the total cost of the software to the buyer.

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                  Web GUI technology has completely surpassed the desktop GUI technology.

                  Back in the day web stuff was so basic that a desktop GUI was nicer and an upgrade, now that has reversed.

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                    I agree to some extent, except that Electron apps (and some web apps) are all but unusable on low-end/older hardware. Many (but not all) are severely lacking in keyboard control and other things that one might expect, too. Every Electron app seems to be oblivious to multilingual users and underlines every word, despite me switching input methods.

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                      I’d like a HTML-based GUI that doesn’t embed a full renderer like Electron does – something that maps HTML onto native controls (including accessibility stuff) could be really neat.

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                        Isn’t that what React Native is? Maybe that’ll be the hot new thing instead of Electron; would prolly be an upgrade.

                        Edit: whoops, it’s iOS and Android only.

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                          React Native is just running your app as JS and communicating to a native set of widgets and layout, which need to be implemented per platform. If desktop support were something FB had as a priority it’d be a good option for a lot of people, but… it’s not.

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                      Couldn’t disagree more, and the reason is accessibility. it’s super trivial for desktop app developers to add keyboard shortcuts and other accessibility aids to their apps. Web developers, despite the fact that these standards like ARIA exist, seem unwilling to adopt them in any sizable number.

                      We can have this conversation again when the Hello World app produced by your average Java framework is Aria accessible, has keyboard shortcuts for everything, and works properly with screen readers.

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                        If the developer doesn’t care it doesn’t matter if it’s a desktop app or a web app. They wont do it either way.

                        The difficulty of adding keyboard shortcuts or adding accessibility tags is not dramatically different and quite easy for web apps too.

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                        As bad as GUI toolkits are, web tech is a lot more awkward to make GUIs with than any major cross-platform toolkit, simply because it’s a hack to draw anything with the DOM. (You’re literally live-editing the AST of a rich text document. It’s amazing that it works at all.)

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                          Your sole argument about DOM being a hack and akward is it being live-editing an AST? If anything, this might be a pro of the DOM API… I don’t see how a technology widely used, having API clearly defined for those use cases and supported by modern and old browsers can be called a hack and akwards. Meanwhile you have your average GUI toolkit that still ask you to design your AST in the code, put the styling right beside the event handling and often introduce first how to put a button a X,Y because using container and layout is akward and complicated.

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                            A regular GUI toolkit doesn’t involve manipulating the AST of a markup language. It involves manipulating containers that map conceptually to layout, using already-implemented widgets. There’s an event handling system designed to efficiently handle widget-specific mappings, focus changes, and other common situations, as well as having sane defaults (versus having an event system that needed to be tacked on ten years after the other features were written).

                            The act of spawning a widget in a web app is an ugly hack, simply because document markup structurally conflicts with GUI layout in ways that the web developer must bodge.

                            If any GUI toolkit requires you to jump through hoops to draw a dot on the screen, it’s broken. (By this standard, most popular GUI toolkits are also broken, but HTML is the most broken of all.)

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                              Yeah, regular GUI toolkit doesn’t involve AST and markup language, such as HTML, XAML, Android, QML, etc. In my opinion, working on a human readable and understandable AST might be the key of the web plateform GUI? Drawing anything is as simple as adding a node or subtree to my current tree. It’s as simple to do by hand than programmaticaly. If anything go wrong I have well made developpers tool to see and live edit this tree. Call it a hack all you want, I call it a successful low-level reprensentation to share the GUI state to the renderer, much better and powerfull than what you can do with Tcl or xlib (Although, much more heavy).

                              If any GUI toolkit requires you to jump through hoops to draw a dot on the screen, it’s broken. (By this standard, most popular GUI toolkits are also broken, but HTML is the most broken of all.)

                              There you go: <html><head></head><body>.</body></html>. By this test we can now assert that HTML is not broken (Or at least just as much as the others).

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                                You haven’t drawn a dot. You’ve typeset a period, and spent 40 characters doing it. And, typesetting text is what HTML is for, so it’s what it’s best at. If you actually want to ensure the period resembles a dot, set its x,y position, and set its color, you’ll need hundreds more characters.

                                In BASIC, you can just do pset(x, y, color)

                                In TK: canvas .c ; .c create point x y color ; pack .c

                                An AST only makes sense if you are actually parsing or generating a structured language. The structure of an HTML document doesn’t coincide with the structure of a PARC GUI (i.e., every major GUI app since 1977), and is an even worse match for the scope of all possible useful GUIs (most of which resemble neither paper nor forms). The reason is that HTML was only ever intended to display minimally-formatted rich text.

                                “Drawing something” is usually easier than manipulating the DOM. “Drawing something” is only trivial on the DOM when what you’re drawing is structured like a text document.

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                        Before the site went down someone found a commend injection issue, allowing command execution as root.

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                          For those who didn’t see it. It was a textbox on a web page passing unfiltered input to a root shell!

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                          In the Hacker News thread about the new Go package manager people were angry about go, since the npm package manager was obviously superior. I can see the quality of that now.

                          There’s another Lobster thread right now about how distributions like Debian are obsolete. The idea being that people use stuff like npm now, instead of apt, because apt can’t keep up with modern software development.

                          Kubernetes official installer is some curl | sudo bash thing instead of providing any kind of package.

                          In the meantime I will keep using only FreeBSD/OpenBSD/RHEL packages and avoid all these nightmares. Sometimes the old ways are the right ways.

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                            “In the Hacker News thread about the new Go package manager people were angry about go, since the npm package manager was obviously superior. I can see the quality of that now.”

                            I think this misses the point. The relevant claim was that npm has a good general approach to packaging, not that npm is perfectly written. You can be solving the right problem, but writing terribly buggy code, and you can write bulletproof code that solves the wrong problem.

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                              npm has a good general approach to packaging

                              The thing is, their general approach isn’t good.

                              They only relatively recently decided locking down versions is the Correct Thing to Do. They then screwed this up more than once.

                              They only relatively recently decided that having a flattened module structure was a good idea (because presumably they never tested in production settings on Windows!).

                              They decided that letting people do weird things with their package registry is the Correct Thing to Do.

                              They took on VC funding without actually having a clear business plan (which is probably going to end in tears later, for the whole node community).

                              On and on and on…

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                                Go and the soon-to-be-official dep dependency managment tool manages dependencies just fine.

                                The Go language has several compilers available. Traditional Linux distro packages together with gcc-go is also an acceptable solution.

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                                  It seems the soon-to-be-official dep tool is going to be replaced by another approach (currently named vgo).

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                                  I believe there’s a high correlation between the quality of the software and the quality of the solution. Others might disagree, but that’s been pretty accurate in my experience. I can’t say why, but I suspect it has to do with the same level of care put into both the implementation and in understanding the problem in the first place. I cannot prove any of this, this is just my heuristic.

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                                    You’re not even responding to their argument.

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                                      There’s npm registry/ecosystem and then there’s the npm cli tool. The npm registry/ecosystem can be used with other clients than the npm cli client and when discussing npm in general people usually refer to the ecosystem rather than the specific implementation of the npm cli client.

                                      I think npm is good but I’m also skeptical about the npm cli tool. One doesn’t exclude the other. Good thing there’s yarn.

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                                        I think you’re probably right that there is a correlation. But it would have to be an extremely strong correlation to justify what you’re saying.

                                        In addition, NPM isn’t the only package manager built on similar principles. Cargo takes heavy inspiration from NPM, and I haven’t heard about it having a history of show-stopping bugs. Perhaps I’ve missed the news.

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                                      The thing to keep in mind is that all of these were (hopefully) done with best intentions. Pretty much all of these had a specific use case… there’s outrage, sure… but they all seem to have a reason for their trade offs.

                                      • People are angry about a proposed go package manager because it throws out a ton of the work that’s been done by the community over the past year… even though it’s fairly well thought out and aims to solve a lot of problems. It’s no secret that package management in go is lacking at best.
                                      • Distributions like Debian are outdated, at least for software dev, but their advantage is that they generally provide a rock solid base to build off of. I don’t want to have to use a version of a python library from years ago because it’s the only version provided by the operating system.
                                      • While I don’t trust curl | sh it is convenient… and it’s hard to argue that point. Providing packages should be better, but then you have to deal with bug reports where people didn’t install the package repositories correctly… and differences in builds between distros… and… and…

                                      It’s easy to look at the entire ecosystem and say “everything is terrible” but when you sit back, we’re still at a pretty good place… there are plenty of good, solid options for development and we’re moving (however slowly) towards safer, more efficient build/dev environments.

                                      But maybe I’m just telling myself all this so I don’t go crazy… jury’s still out on that.

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                                        Distributions like Debian are outdated, at least for software dev,

                                        That is the sentiment that seems to drive the programming language specific package managers. I think what is driving this is that software often has way too many unnecessary dependencies causing setup of the environment to build the software being hard or taking lots of time.

                                        I don’t want to have to use a version of a python library from years ago because it’s the only version provided by the operating system.

                                        Often it is possible to install libraries at another location and redirect your software to use that though.

                                        It’s easy to look at the entire ecosystem and say “everything is terrible” but when you sit back, we’re still at a pretty good place…

                                        I’m not so sure. I forsee an environment where actually building software is a lost art. Where people directly edit interpreted files in place inside a virtual machine image/flatpak/whatever because they no longer know how to build the software and setup the environment it needs. And then some language specific package manager for distributing these images.

                                        I’m growing more disillusioned the more I read Hacker News and lobste.rs… Help me be happy. :)

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                                          So like squeak/smalltalk images then? Whats old is new again I suppose.


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                                            I’m not so sure. I forsee an environment where actually building software is a lost art. Where people directly edit interpreted files in place inside a virtual machine image/flatpak/whatever because they no longer know how to build the software and setup the environment it needs. And then some language specific package manager for distributing these images.

                                            You could say the same thing about Docker. I think package managers and tools like Docker are a net win for the community. They make it faster for experienced practitioners to setup environments and they make it easier for inexperienced ones as well. Sure, there is a lot you’ve gotta learn to use either responsibly. But I remember having to build redis every time I needed it because it wasn’t in ubuntu’s official package manager when I started using it. And while I certainly appreciate that experience, I love that I can just install it with apt now.

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                                            I don’t want to have to use a version of a python library from years ago because it’s the only version provided by the operating system.

                                            Speaking of Python specifically, it’s not a big problem there because everyone is expected to work within virtual environments and nobody runs pip install with sudo. And when libraries require building something binary, people do rely on system-provided stable toolchains (compilers and -dev packages for C libraries). And it all kinda works :-)

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                                              I think virtual environments are a best practice that unfortunately isn’t followed everywhere. You definitely shoudn’t run pip install with sudo but I know of a number of companies where part of their deployment is to build a VM image and sudo pip install the dependencies. However it’s the same thing with npm. In theory you should just run as a normal user and have everything installed to node_modules but this clearly isn’t the case, as shown by this issue.

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                                                nobody runs pip install with sudo

                                                I’m pretty sure there are quite a few devs doing just that.

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                                                  Sure, I didn’t count :-) The important point is they have a viable option not to.

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                                                  npm works locally by default, without even doing anything to make a virtual environment. Bundler, Cargo, Stack etc. are similar.

                                                  People just do sudo because Reasons™ :(

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                                                It’s worth noting that many of the “curl | bash” installers actually add a package repository and then install the software package. They contain some glue code like automatic OS/distribution detection.

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                                                  I’d never known true pain in software development until I tried to make my own .debs and .rpms. Consider that some of these newer packaging systems might have been built because Linux packaging is an ongoing tirefire.

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                                                    with fpm https://github.com/jordansissel/fpm it’s not that hard. But yes, using the Debian or Redhat blessed was to package stuff and getting them into the official repos is def. painful.

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                                                      I used the gradle plugins with success in the past, but yeah, writing spec files by hand is something else. I am surprised nobody has invented a more user friendly DSL for that yet.

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                                                        A lot of difficulties when doing Debian packages come from policy. For your own packages (not targeted to be uploaded in Debian), it’s far easier to build packages if you don’t follow the rules. I like to pretend this is as easy as with fpm, but you get some bonus from it (building in a clean chroot, automatic dependencies, service management like the other packages). I describe this in more details here: https://vincent.bernat.im/en/blog/2016-pragmatic-debian-packaging

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                                                        It sucks that you come away from this thinking that all of these alternatives don’t provide benefits.

                                                        I know there’s a huge part of the community that just wants things to work. You don’t write npm for fun, you end up writing stuff like it because you can’t get current tools to work with your workflow.

                                                        I totally agree that there’s a lot of messiness in this newer stuff that people in older structures handle well. So…. we can knowledge share and actually make tools on both ends of the spectrum better! Nothing about Kubernetes requires a curl’d installer, after all.

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                                                        I don’t disagree with the article. However I also can’t help but to be reminded of the “I only own 1 fork, 2 tshirts, a backpack, and a laptop” people.

                                                        “I disable HTML, CSS, Javascript and all that bloat … I only browse the internet with Emacs … ALSO … oh my god did I tell you how much RAM this Electron blasphemy uses? … what is wrong with some good old ugly lightweight Tk GUIs? I mostly use tmux over SSH anyways so who needs GUIs right right? Everything is bloated. Everything is unnecessary. Disable everything. And make sure that your stuff gracefully falls back from 2018 to this authentic vintage record player that I feel like using as my alternative web browser today for extra privacy protection.”

                                                        I get it. I don’t even particularly disagree with it. But it’s turning into a bit of a meme.

                                                        Also for clarity I don’t mean to imply that the author said those things. The post just reminded me of this theme.

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                                                          I get it. I don’t even particularly disagree with it. But it’s turning into a bit of a meme.

                                                          It’s to distinguish yourself, as opposed to those that that run Wordpress and use IDEs. And yes, it relates to the minimalism you mention.

                                                          (Did I mention my writing space uses pandoc and a couple of lines of shell ?)

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                                                            I tried that, too, but found that pandoc is actually quite difficult to maintain, since it lives in the haskell ecosystem (which isn’t too available on the non-GNU Linux ecosystem)

                                                            Im with the markdown/jekyll stack now, i dont think its less bloated, but at least i can outsource the rendering (and therefore having the stuff installed) to github pages.

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                                                              It has a lot of weird issues, like pandoc output not being really stable, so compiling with a newer version of pandoc leads to a lot of churn in the results.

                                                              pandoc releases binaries though, and whenever I’m on non-GNU, I just get the installer and install it.

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                                                            I want to add that minimalism can have an nice payout: reduced resource usage. If you use tmux instead of Xorg, w3m instead of firefox, suddenly an 15 year old Laptop is not scrap metal anymore. They cost like 60$ each on eBay, but you can usually get them for free from relatives.

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                                                              I think it’s good to have both extremes, like that everyone can choose something in the middle.
                                                              However, 2016 and 2017 have shown that there’s a trend to not take that middle way.

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                                                                Maybe it gets a meme. There are memes for everything nowadays. There are meme for GUI too, or the GUI was a meme that grew too big to be called a meme, now it is the standard way of computing for most people.

                                                                If bulk can be stripped out of the interfaces (graphical, text, any kind!) it is good, but if it becomes yet another meme… Yes, it kills all the fun.

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                                                                Electron bashings remind of Haskell (or similar) programmers bashing PHP.

                                                                Just like PHP, Electron has problems, but it has many practical benefits and that’s why it’s popular despite having those problems.

                                                                Their popularity (despite their problems) shows just how weak and problematic some of the alternatives are.

                                                                A minority of purists will moan while people continue to produce value using these tools.

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                                                                  Yes, but there’s another thing: PHP had become extremely popular for historic reasons (shared web hosts where you could not execute custom binaries but had mod_php or so; much simpler to get started programming for than CGI binaries) and then just stayed there, at least to some extend, also for economical reasons: There are vast amounts of people who feel comfortable programming PHP and find Jobs doing it, so they often don’t really see a reason to look into anything else. Because a) it’s popular, b) ‘works’ for them c) heard that the other stuff is more complicated.

                                                                  With electron, getting started is easy. When you hit performance problems or so, you often have already invested far too much resources in the platform to switch. With QT for example, getting started, is perceived as much more difficult.

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                                                                  Businesses tend to derail software development practices because they tend to view it as “hip brand name for how we exert power over employees”.

                                                                  They will hang on to small pieces of a methodology as a cover for something else.

                                                                  For example they may weaponise “daily agile standup meeting” for micro-management.

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                                                                    Exactly - this is the most dangerous thing about “Agile”. It makes software developers the least important and least powerful people in software development, when really we should be the ones controlling our own field.

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                                                                    I support this (for being more complete/explicit).

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                                                                      Lacking a bachelors degree effects your career in development in at least one significant way; limiting your salary and promotion potential. Outside “competent” tech companies, Big Dumb Corp (ie the rest of the Forturn 500) HR will always use lack of a BS degree (or only an Associates) as reason to offer less salary up front, and lower raises once you’re on staff, and deny promotion. It’s a check box incompetents use to because they can’t tell who actually contributes. Some of the best developers I’ve worked with have had no degrees, have been self taught. It’s not right, but what I’ve seen where ever I’ve worked.

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                                                                        Another unfortunate but real side effect is many people may be less than thrilled to “work under” you if they have degrees (i.e. self-taught engineer in charge of multiple PhDs).

                                                                        The only exception is if you are some god authority figure like Linus Torvalds where no one dares to challenge your expertise.

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                                                                          That’s a bias too. There is nothing to say that an engineer without a degree cannot do a good job managing a highly credentialed staff. As long as they have humility, know their limits, and are thinking about how to get the best out of someone it should be possible. Lots of research-based organisations don’t have this occurring a lot because the needs of the job (not the people management) require the PhD, but in the tech industry there are lots of PhDs being managed by less credentialed individuals.

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                                                                            I agree. The thing is it’s common enough that you will not be able to consistently escape it.

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                                                                          True, startups and most tech companies don’t care. Fortune 500, consultancies etc will be harder.

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                                                                            I think that is less of a problem outside of the US (And maybe the UK?). I not in those countries and have not been to university. I’m doing ok as a developer. I think you just need other ways to show your skills such as a website/blog/github/experience. Once you get your first job (It’s probably not going to be stellar) then all the companies after that will mainly be looking at your experience in the work force.

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                                                                            There’s one legitimate use case for password expiration policy that often gets ignored.

                                                                            If a password is compromised the attacker can possibly quietly access a system behind a user’s back and siphon out information for years and years.

                                                                            For example the CEOs email password has been compromised and a hacker establishes a script to siphon out and archive messages which could last for years.

                                                                            A password expiration policy limits this risk by setting a time window.

                                                                            If you don’t have that you can potentially get into situations where you can not reliably determine what has been compromised and what hasn’t been.

                                                                            Password expiration gives you a frame of reference for when the compromise could and could not have happened.

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                                                                              The problem with this reasoning is that it ignores the initial attack vector; how did the attacker compromise that password in the first place? It doesn’t just magically fall out of the sky once and then never reappear again.

                                                                              Very often you’ll find that the password was obtained by compromising a victim’s computer, breaking into an auxiliary system that shares the same passwords, and so on. In these cases it is absolutely useless to change the password, because the attacker could just as easily obtain the new password and continue their business.

                                                                              There’s a small set of cases where a time window might limit exposure, such as reused passwords in password dumps; but 1) these cases are better mitigated by preventing low-entropy passwords, 2) you’re still vulnerable for 3 months or whatever your window is, which is more than enough time to siphon out all information from most networks, 3) you’d be much better protected by just having proper monitoring of user sessions in the first place.

                                                                              Is there theoretically a nonzero benefit to password expiry? Yes, but only if your security is already otherwise lacking, and even then it’s not a common case, and at that point it’s absolutely not worth it considering the big downside of forced password expiry: it incentivizes people to pick worse passwords, because remembering complex passwords is a big time investment that’s no longer worth it.

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                                                                                This would indeed work if you can use a password manager at that point. If it is at the login prompt, you usually can’t use a password manager. If web service X has a policy to change password every Y months, it wouldn’t be much trouble, I just use my password manager. I do that occasionally (manually) anyway for social accounts.

                                                                                Also, as the article suggest, for the particular threat you mention, you’d better use 2FA to mitigate that.

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                                                                                Naming is about communicating from one human to another with an extremely low amount of information (function name) with a high amount of meaning (that function’s behavior).

                                                                                Really wish all this code cross-refrence tooling focused on showing documentation & linking it, not code. Texinfo is mediocre, but supports the type of indexing that is useful.

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                                                                                  Agreed. I have compared this to the saying that “sometimes the only way to escape the fire is to run through it”.

                                                                                  I don’t mean this in a practical sense for doing today in your source code, but as a philosophical concept. It’s better to name something “oldPanda” than “findLastUserUnpaidInvoiceSomethingSomething”.

                                                                                  In the first instance you just assign a name, a symbol, to a concept. You are not fighting to pack lots of information into a tiny space. Because the symbol is meaningless it can precisely mean what it is representing.

                                                                                  In the second instance you make an attempt at packing information into somewhere that simply does not fit. Now this incomplete and inaccurate name will become one of your worst enemies for years to come.

                                                                                  The relation to that saying at the top is that just like running through fire having obscure symbols and names is something we want to naturally avoid so we try to cram meaning into variable names which is perhaps the “obvious” solution like running away from a fire, but it’s not necessary always the best.

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                                                                                  We are excited to continue experimenting with this new editing paradigm.

                                                                                  That’s fine, but this is not new.

                                                                                  Structured editors (also known as syntax-directed editors) have been around since at least the early 80s. I remember thinking in undergrad (nearly 20 years ago now) that structured editing would be awesome. When I got to grad school I started to poke around in the literature and there is a wealth of it. It didn’t catch on. So much so that by 1986 there were papers reviewing why they didn’t: On the Usefulness of Syntax Directed Editors (Lang, 1986).

                                                                                  By the 90s they were all but dead, except maybe in niche areas.

                                                                                  I have no problem with someone trying their hand at making such an editor. By all means, go ahead. Maybe it was a case of poor hardware or cultural issues. Who knows. But don’t tell me it’s new because it isn’t. And do yourself a favour and study why it failed before, lest you make the same mistakes.

                                                                                  Addendum: here’s something from 1971 describing such a system. User engineering principles for interactive systems (Hansen, 1971). I didn’t know about this one until today!

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                                                                                    Our apologies, we were in no way claiming that syntax-directed editing is new. It obvious has a long and storied history. We only intended to describe as new our particular implementation of it. That article was intended for broad consumption. The vast majority of the users with whom we engage have no familiarity with the concepts of structured editing, so we wanted to lay them out plainly. We certainly have studied and drawn inspiration from many of the past and current attempts in this field, but thanks for those links. Looking forward to checking them out. We are heartened by the generally positive reception and feedback – the cloud era offers a lot of new avenues of exploration for syntax-directed editing.

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                                                                                      Looks like you’ve been working hard on it. Encouraging!

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                                                                                      This is an interesting relevant video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSnnfUj1XCQ

                                                                                      The major complaint about structured editing has always been a lack of flexibility in editing incomplete/invalid programs creating an uncomfortable point and click experience that is not as fluid and freestyle as text.

                                                                                      However that is not at all a case against structured editing. That is a case for making better structured editors.

                                                                                      That is not an insurmountable challenge and not a big enough problem to justify throwing away all the other benefits of structured editing.

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                                                                                        Thanks for the link to the video. That’s stuff from Intentional Software, something spearheaded by Charles Simonyi(*). It’s been in development for years and was recently acquired by Microsoft. I don’t think they’ve ever released anything.

                                                                                        To be clear, I am not against structured editing. What I don’t like is calling it new, when it clearly isn’t. And the lack of acknowledgement of why things didn’t work before is also disheartening.

                                                                                        As for structured editing itself, I like it and I’ve tried it, and the only place I keep using it is with Lisp. I think it’s going to be one of those “worse is better” things: although it may be more “pure”, it won’t offer enough benefit over its cheaper – though more sloppy – counterpart.

                                                                                        (*) The video was made when he was still working on that stuff within Microsoft. It became a separate company shortly after, in 2002.

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                                                                                          I mentioned this in the previous discussion about isomorf.

                                                                                          Here is what I consider an AST editor done about as right as can be done, in terms of “getting out of my way”

                                                                                          Friend of mine Rik Arends demoing his real-time WebGL system MakePad at AmsterdamJS this year

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                                                                                          Right, so I’ve taken multiple stabs at research on this stuff in various forms over the years, everything from AST editors, to visual programming systems and AOP. I had a bit of an exchange with @akent about it offline.

                                                                                          I worked with Charles a bit at Microsoft and later at Intentional. I became interested in it since there is a hope for it to increase programmer productivity and correctness without sacrificing performance.

                                                                                          You are totally right though Geoff, the editor experience can be a bugger, and if you don’t get it right, your customers are going to feel frustrated, claustrophobic and walk away. That’s the way the Intentional Programming system felt way back when - very tedious. Hopefully they improved it a lot.

                                                                                          I attacked it from a different direction to Charles using markup in regular code. You would drop in meta-tags which were your “intentions” (using Charles’ terminology). The meta-tags were parameterized functions that ran on the AST in-place. They could reflect on the code around them or even globally, taking into account the normal programmer typed code, and then “insert magic here”.

                                                                                          Turned out it I basically reinvented a lot of the Aspect Oriented Programming work that Gregor Kiczales had done a few years earlier although I had no idea at the time. Interestingly Gregor was the co-founder of Intentional Software along with Charles.

                                                                                          Charles was more into the “one-representation-to-rule-them-all” thing though and for that the editor was of supreme importance. He basically wanted to do “Object Linking and Embedding”… but for code. That’s cool too.

                                                                                          There were many demos of the fact that you could view the source in different ways, but to be honest, I think that although this demoed really well, it wasn’t as useful (at least at the time) as everyone had hoped.

                                                                                          My stuff had its own challenges too. The programs were ultra powerful, but they were a bit of a black-box in the original system. They were capable of adding huge gobs of code that you literally couldn’t see in the editor. That made people feel queasy because unless you knew what these enzymes did, it was a bit too much voodoo. We did solve the debugging story if I remember correctly, but there were other problems with them - like the compositional aspects of them (which had no formalism).

                                                                                          I’m still very much into a lot of these ideas, and things can be done better now, so I’m not giving up on the field just yet.

                                                                                          Oh yeah, take a look at the Wolfram Language as well - another inspirational and somewhat related thing.

                                                                                          But yes, it’s sage advice to see why a lot of the attempts have failed at least to know what not to do again. And also agree, that’s not a reason not to try.

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                                                                                            From the first article, fourth page:

                                                                                            The case of Lisp is interesting though because though this language has a well defined syntax with parenthesis (ignoring the problem of macro-characters), this syntax is too trivial to be more useful than the structuring of a text as a string of characters, and it does not reflect the semantics of the language. Lisp does have a better structured syntax, but it is hidden under the parenthesis.

                                                                                            KILL THE INFIDEL!!!

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                                                                                              Jetbrains’ MPS is using a projectional editor. I am not sure if this is only really used in academia or if it is also used in industry. The mbeddr project is build on top of it. I remember using it and being very frustrated by the learning curve of the projectional editor.

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                                                                                              This is at least partially the “craft” part of programming. There’s a special sense and taste that you develop after years of programming that you can not put into words and you can not learn from the books.

                                                                                              It’s not at all unique to programming either. It’s like becoming a KungFu master or master chef and things like that.

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                                                                                                I do not think that it cant be put into words. But it is devilishly hard to do so. Its also very worthwhile. I often find that If I fight to get one of those hard to describe things on to paper. I learn something very valuable in the process. and I understand what it is I subconsciously know better.