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    As a junior developer doing my best to learn as much as I can, both technically and in terms of engineering maturity, I’d love to hear what some of the veterans here have found useful in their own careers for getting the most out of their jobs, projects, and time.

    Anything from specific techniques as in this post to general mindset and approach would be most welcome.

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      Several essentials have made a disproportionate benefit on my career. In no order:

      • find a job with lots of flexibility and challenging work
      • find a job where your coworkers continuously improve themselves as much (or more) than you
      • start writing a monthly blog of things you learn and have strong opinions on
      • learn to be political (it’ll help you stay with good challenging work). Being political isn’t slimy, it is wise. Be confident in this.
      • read programming books/blogs and develop a strong philosophy
      • start a habit of programming to learn for 15 minutes a day, every day
      • come to terms with the fact that you will see a diminishing return on new programing skills, and an increasing return on “doing the correct/fastest thing” skills. (e.g. knowing what to work on, knowing what corners to cut, knowing how to communicate with business people so you only solve their problems and not just chase their imagined solutions, etc). Lean into this, and practice this skill as often as you can.

      These have had an immense effect on my abilities. They’ve helped me navigate away from burnout and cultivated a strong intrinsic motivation that has lasted over ten years.

      1. 5

        Thank you for these suggestions!

        Would you mind expanding on the ‘be political’ point? Do you mean to be involved in the ‘organizational politics’ where you work? Or in terms of advocating for your own advancement, ensuring that you properly get credit for what you work on, etc?

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          Being political is all about everything that happens outside the editor. Working with people, “managing up”, figuring out the “real requirements’, those are all political.

          Being political is always ensuring you do one-on-ones, because employees who do them are more likely to get higher raises. It’s understanding that marketing is often reality, and you are your only marketing department.

          This doesn’t mean put anyone else down, but be your best you, and make sure decision makers know it.

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            Basically, politics means having visibility in the company and making sure you’re managing your reputation and image.

            A few more random bits:


          start a habit of programming to learn for 15 minutes a day, every day

          Can you give an example? So many days I sit down after work or before in front of my computer. I want to do something, but my mind is like, “What should I program right now?”

          As you can probably guess nothing gets programmed. Sigh. I’m hopeless.


            Having a plan before you sit down is crucial. If you sit and putter, you’ll not actually improve, you’ll do what’s easy.

            I love courses and books. I also love picking a topic to research and writing about it.

            Some of my favorite courses:

        3. 14

          One thing that I’ve applied in my career is that saying, “never be the smartest person in the room.” When things get too easy/routine, I try to switch roles. I’ve been lucky enough to work at a small company that grew very big, so I had the opportunity to work on a variety of things; backend services, desktop clients, mobile clients, embedded libraries. I was very scared every time I asked, because I felt like I was in over my head. I guess change is always a bit scary. But every time, it put some fun back into my job, and I learned a lot from working with people with entirely different skill sets and expertise.

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            I don’t have much experience either but to me the best choice that I felt in the last year was stop worrying about how good a programmer I was and focus on how to enjoy life.

            We have one life don’t let anxieties come into play, even if you intellectually think working more should help you.

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              This isn’t exactly what you’re asking for, but, something to consider. Someone who knows how to code reasonably well and something else are more valuable than someone who just codes. You become less interchangeable, and therefore less replaceable. There’s tons of work that people who purely code don’t want to do, but find very valuable. For me, that’s documentation. I got my current job because people love having docs, but hate writing docs. I’ve never found myself without multiple options every time I’ve ever looked for work. I know someone else who did this, but it was “be fluent In Japanese.” Japanese companies love people who are bilingual with English. It made his resume stand out.

              1. 1

                . I got my current job because people love having docs, but hate writing docs.

                Your greatest skill in my eyes is how you interact with people online as a community lead. You have a great style for it. Docs are certainly important, too. I’d have guessed they hired you for the first set of skills rather than docs, though. So, that’s a surprise for me. Did you use one to pivot into the other or what?

                1. 7

                  Thanks. It’s been a long road; I used to be a pretty major asshole to be honest.

                  My job description is 100% docs. The community stuff is just a thing I do. It’s not a part of my deliverables at all. I’ve just been commenting on the internet for a very long time; I had a five digit slashdot ID, etc etc. Writing comments on tech-oriented forums is just a part of who I am at this point.

                  1. 2

                    Wow. Double unexpected. Thanks for the details. :)

              2. 7

                Four things:

                1. People will remember you for your big projects (whether successful or not) as well as tiny projects that scratch an itch. Make room for the tiny fixes that are bothering everyone; the resulting lift in mood will energize the whole team. I once had a very senior engineer tell me my entire business trip to Paris was worth it because I made a one-line git fix to a CI system that was bothering the team out there. A cron job I wrote in an afternoon at an internship ended up dwarfing my ‘real’ project in terms of usefulness to the company and won me extra contract work after the internship ended.

                2. Pay attention to the people who are effective at ‘leaving their work at work.’ The people best able to handle the persistent, creeping stress of knowledge work are the ones who transform as soon as the workday is done. It’s helpful to see this in person, especially seeing a deeply frustrated person stand up and cheerfully go “okay! That’ll have to wait for tomorrow.” Trust that your subconscious will take care of any lingering hard problems, and learn to be okay leaving a work in progress to enjoy yourself.

                3. Having a variety of backgrounds is extremely useful for an engineering team. I studied electrical engineering in college and the resulting knowledge of probability and signal processing helped me in environments where the rest of the team had a more traditional CS background. This applies to backgrounds in fields outside engineering as well: art, history, literature, etc will give you different perspectives and abilities that you can use to your advantage. I once saw a presentation about using art critique principles to guide your code reviews. Inspiration can come from anywhere; the more viewpoints you have in your toolbelt the better.

                4. Learn about the concept of the ‘asshole filter’ (safe for work). In a nutshell, if you give people who violate your boundaries special treatment (e.g. a coworker who texts you on your vacation to fix a noncritical problem gets their problem fixed) then you are training people to violate your boundaries. You need to make sure that people who do things ‘the right way’ (in this case, waiting for when you get back or finding someone else to fix it) get priority, so that over time people you train people to respect you and your boundaries.

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                  I once saw a presentation about using art critique principles to guide your code reviews. Inspiration can come from anywhere; the more viewpoints you have in your toolbelt the better.

                  The methodology from that talk is here: http://codecrit.com/methodology.html

                  I would change “If the code doesn’t work, we shouldn’t be reviewing it”. There is a place for code review of not-done work, of the form “this is the direction I’m starting to go in…what do you think”. This can save a lot of wasted effort.

                2. 3

                  The biggest mistake I see junior (and senior) developers make is key mashing. Slow down, understand a problem, untangle the dependent systems, and don’t just guess at what the problem is. Read the code, understand it. Read the code of the underlying systems that you’re interacting with, and understand it. Only then, make an attempt at fixing the bug.

                  Stabs in the dark are easy. They may even work around problems. But clean, correct, and easy to understand fixes require understanding.

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                    Another thing that helps is the willingness to dig into something you’re obsessed with even if it is deemed not super important by everyone around you. eg. if you find a library / language / project you find fun and seem to get obsessed with, that’s great, keep going at it and don’t let the existential “should i be here” or other “is everyone around me doing this too / recommending this” questions slow you down. You’ll probably get on some interesting adventures.

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                      Never pass up a chance to be social with your team/other coworkers. Those relationships you build can benefit you as much as your work output.

                      (This doesn’t mean you compromise your values in any way, of course. But the social element is vitally important!)

                    1. 1

                      At my previous company, people were encouraged to write weekly snippets representing what they did. I found this pretty useful to know about what people were working on (I also used it to promote a political agenda by plotting my review latency histograms, encouraging people to review things faster). This was also essential when you had to do annual performance reviews, as you could look back to a yearly summary of what you had done.

                      At my current company, we use a slack bot to do daily “what did you do / what are you going to do” standups. It’s nice, but I miss the yearly roll-up view and the weekly frequency – you had more leeway to put in more information, like histograms or longer explanations of things.

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                        It seems like everything coming out of siggraph is terrifying now.

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                          They really skipped over the limitations though, I didn’t catch how long training takes and I would like to have seen some more examples of where is struggles, but I expect more of this is in the paper.

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                          I like the idea of a subscription to pay for maintenance of open source software (I would even pay for this as an individual), but the logistics of making this happen in a fair and sustainable way sound like a nightmare. Are there companies or organizations that already do this on a broad scale? In the past I’ve donated to Software in the Public Interest and the FreeBSD Foundation, and the Software Freedom Conservancy and the FSF are other well-known orgs, but it would be nice to pay one meta-organization to dole things out and track effectiveness.

                          1. 4

                            Music apps for iPhone (most are only written for iPad)

                            • Nanoloop is a music sequencer originally written for the Gameboy but works well on iOS/Android.
                            • Elastic Drums is a drum machine / groovebox with a pretty intuitive interface.


                            • PONS German-English Dictionary Advanced is expensive, but it’s a fully offline dictionary. Good in situations when you don’t have signal.
                            • German Grammar Spy spaced-repetition German article trainer. The words are sorted by frequency, so you learn the most common words first. I prefer this over normal vocabulary trainers because you can go through it very quickly.
                            • German Verb Conjugator no-nonsense offline conjugation lookup of all German verbs. There is a separate paid version without ads.


                            • Reporter is a good self-logging app with random sampling.
                            • Productive well-written habit builder.


                            • Transit immediately tells you the arrival times of nearby transit options, and does it better than Citymapper.
                            • Citymapper is usually better than Google Maps and Transit for route planning.
                            1. 5

                              Is there a single Fuchsia user yet? When does that happen? Is this targeted at IOT? (I’ve heard that thrown around as a reason for its existence) or is this a take on what computers could be if you stripped away all the legacy?

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                                or is this a take on what computers could be if you stripped away all the legacy?

                                I think that’s the technical ambition.
                                A worth ambition, I would add, since I pursuit it too (if in a completely different direction).

                                But the political reason is pretty obvious: to build a GPL-free system that can get rid of Linus & friends.
                                Under Google’s own control.

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                                  I’m a pretty heavy GPL advocate, but this at least is open source.

                                  1. 5

                                    Sadly this doesn’t mean much.

                                    Beyond my own experience with open source operating systems developed by Google employees, I’ve seen in the past that a liberal license means nothing when it comes to the power of such large companies.

                                    They have plenty of ways to discourage developers from using the freedoms that the license provides.

                                    The careful wording in the PATENTS file is probably one of these.

                                    Another could be unusual build infrastructure or huge build times (as in the case of Chromium).

                                    Indeed I do not remember any abandoned project from such companies that was later taken from a community (like in the case of open office, for example), but I’m happy to be corrected in this regard.

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                                      I take your point regarding the reality that all such agreements rely on parties, particularly the more powerful ones, acting in good faith, and stories like the one you link about HarveyOS certainly should discourage contributing to non-GPLed (or similarly Freely licensed) projects. Or, one may engage with them that way by presuming that your contributions will be appropriated and unremarked. The ability to simply choose to fork the project initially and never give back, though, is something that somewhat mitigates that in the case of BSD, even as it goes against the FSF pro-sharing ethos.

                                      I’m not going to get into the patent release; I acknowledge your point but don’t think using that vector is likely. Same, I guess, with the technical discouragements like the build time in Chromium, because that’s extremely legit as a critique of the consequential impacts of that software. I do not think there’s an abstract philosophical defense against any of the points you raise, in the context of an FSF philosophy.

                                      But as long as we’re getting consequentialist here, there are reasons to believe that the interests of Google and the People are aligned on this project. I think their ambition is to have a Zircon-based OS running on devices from the scale of phones and watches on up to a datacenter-sized supercomputer, seamlessly participating in distributed computation, and the only way to achieve that is to make it as ubiquitous as possible. In order to do that, it needs to be developer-friendly, because as an operating system, it needs to appeal to people like us (technical users, developers, etc.), whereas something like Chromium doesn’t. Regarding my thesis about their ambition, from https://fuchsia.googlesource.com/docs/+/master/the-book/life_of_an_open.md (emphasis added here):

                                      Once the message has been transmitted from the client’s side of the channel, it lives in the server’s side of the channel, waiting to be read. The server is identified by “whoever holds the handle to the other end of the channel” – it may live in the same (or a different) process as the client, use the same (or a different) runtime than the client, and be written in the same (or a different language) than the client. By using an agreed-upon wire-format, the interprocess dependencies are bottlenecked at the thin communication layer that occurs over channels.

                                      I have seen good operating systems be BSD-licensed (for example, *BSD). I’m pretty stoked about this project.

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                                        Well, from a technical point of view, I’m pretty sure it will be a great piece of software.
                                        And given how primitive are the mainstream operating systems right now, any piece of research is welcome for me.

                                        But I do not think that “the interests of Google and the People are aligned on this project”.
                                        I trust the Fuchsia developers’ skills, but Google is a huge corporation: its interests evolve independently from any ethical consideration, and its open source software is always a strategical marketing tool.

                                        Take Chromium, for example: it’s a great software that pushed the web forward (and JavaScript abuse with it, but this is another story), but its main purpose was to defeat Microsoft.
                                        I was naively fooled to think that the creation of Google Chrome Frame was a sort of philanthropic effort to helps those people who were stuck to IE. It was not.
                                        Indeed IE still sucks and many people are still forced to use it, but Google abandoned GCF when they won the war they cared about.

                                        While I still think that Microsoft purposely tried to slowdown the web for its own interests, Google was not better, just smarter: Google was able to dress its marketing strategies as philanthropic gifts, for years.

                                        Now they are doing the same with Fuchsia.

                                        If they will success, they will spread an os that is just “formerly” open source, but they will lead the development both technically and politically. And you will see a lot of effort from other companies too to make this happen. Just like such companies invest in LLVM, another great piece of software that is designed to defeat the most important piece of code controlled by the Free Software Foundation: GCC.

                                        As of today, indeed, I don’t think big companies are scared by the “virality” of the GPL.

                                        They are much, much more scared by the message it carries: programming is a powerful political act. Probably one of the most powerful.

                                        Had this realization to mix with the consciousness of how primitive is our field, they would completely loose control of their programmers (that they already try to keep under strict control with various methods).

                                        So just like Microsoft did not really understand what was happening with Chrome, now everybody looks at Fuchsia just for its technical design.

                                        But don’t get fooled, the enemy now is the true hacker’s culture that people like Richard Stallman, Linus Torvalds and Theo de Raadt, despite their differences (or maybe exactly for their differences), represent.

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                                          I can’t argue with you, and even wrote similarly last year: https://blog.joeardent.net/2017/01/say-no-to-corporate-friendly-licenses/

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                                            Nice read.

                                            We live in a world where a group of eight people have control of more economic means than the poorest four billion people, and the power disparity between our corporate masters and regular humans is unimaginably vast. There’s very little that you or I can do, but we do have one ace up our sleeves: we write software, and software increases our leverage. So don’t give that leverage to the leviathans trying to commoditize you.

                                            I really think that we, as hackers, should deeply reflect on the power that we have.

                                            And on the responsibility that comes with it.

                                        2. 2

                                          I’ve been interested in distributed, capability-based systems for a while, since EROS/CoyotOS in the early 2000s, and Zircon/Fuschia seem like the best shot at embodying the spirit of those systems, as in, eg, http://www.capros.org/overview.html

                                        3. 1

                                          How do huge build times restrict developers’ freedoms? Does Gentoo suffer the same fate?

                                          1. 2

                                            Well, in 2015 I was asked by one of our customers (a large multinational bank) to evaluate the fork Google Chrome Frame when Google retired its support.
                                            They used it over IE8 for their intranet (a pretty secure environment, AFAICT) and just wanted someone to call in case of functional bugs for a couple of years.
                                            The budget they were ready to pay for this request was pretty high, and the technical skill of my team were (and are) pretty amazing.

                                            If I remember correctly, it took 3 days to get the build complete on my desktop.

                                            Managers were already pretty scared by the risks (that for the first time in their lives, they were over-estimating), so when I said this, they incredibly decided to refuse such opportunity.

                                            Explaining that we just needed another server for the continuous build, was not enough.

                                            This despite the Chromium license.

                                            1. 2

                                              It sucks that you lost a customer and I don’t want to get into the details of your build setup, but maybe the long build times are just inherent to a large C++ application? I understand your argument that a company with deep pockets can afford to work on more complex software faster, but was compiling Chromium that much slower than a comparable non-profit project like Firefox?

                                              1. 1

                                                Also, I was implicitly (sorry) replying to your comparison with Gentoo.

                                                While maybe the Gentoo team have a continuous build setup comparable to that of Google, few people need to fork Gentoo because they have been locked in.
                                                And even those who do, would not build it frequently as a whole.

                                                Forking a single complex application is a completely different matter.

                                                1. 0

                                                  It sucks that you lost a customer

                                                  Well… it’s still one of our best customers!
                                                  But we lost a pretty interesting work (both economically and technically).

                                                  I don’t want to get into the details of your build setup

                                                  Frankly I do not remember much. It was the first and last time I had to build Google Chrome Frame.
                                                  But I remember it was not an easy task: I remember an unusual number of WTF (why the hell they did it so?)

                                                  I understand your argument that a company with deep pockets can afford to work on more complex software faster, but was compiling Chromium that much slower than a comparable non-profit project like Firefox?

                                                  Honestly, I didn’t try.
                                                  But as far as I can read, there is still a huge factor, between Firefox and Chrome.

                                                  The point however is that people should realize that Open Source from big companies is just marketing.

                                                  At best, they do not really care about external developers (as opposite to Free Software).

                                                  Sometimes they just look for minions that work for free for them.

                                                  At worst, they are fooling developers to give up their freedom (and power).
                                                  And they are pretty good at this: I’ve talked with many smart developers that were not aware of how much they were working against their own long term interests.

                                                  Note that the problem is not the license and while I value collaboration over competition, alternatives are always a good thing. The problem is who controls the projects for real.

                                                  1. 2

                                                    I am familiar with the high level of WTF for building Chromium (and AOSP too, right?).

                                                    Do you think it has anything to do with this? https://lobste.rs/s/mbufwv/some_software_cannot_be_used_at_google

                                                    make is GPL. So is autoconf. Etc?

                                                    1. 1

                                                      Maybe. Frankly I cannot say.

                                                      I build my OS with a few disposable Go scripts. I will replace Go with a simpler general purpose language asap, but I will not use GNU Make or Autoconf (nor cmake or worse shits) because I want to see how far you can follow a minimalist approach.

                                                      However building Jeanne, from source to the first drawterm connection, requires just a handful of commands documented in the README.

                                                      And Jehanne is pure research.

                                                      But I think that if I were going to write a Free Software browser, I would use the most battle tested and well known tools, exactly to minimize WTFs.

                                                      In practice, it depends on what you want to do.

                                                      If your goal is to create a distributed system that replace current computing techniques from the ground up, you probably do not care much with compatibility: your gift to the world is the brave innovation that breaks every conventions.

                                                      On the other hand, if you want to create a Free Software for the current world you should focus on that and maximize for developer’s friendliness.

                                                      But what if you want to spread a new browser to break a monopoly while keeping the full control of that software?

                                                      Open source to the rescue!

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                                        I think, like many of Google’s other “extra” projects, it’s mainly a hedge. It makes sure they can’t be boxed in in the future if something unfavorable happens with Linux, just like Android was created mainly to ensure they wouldn’t ever be at the mercy of other mobile OS makers choosing to switch away from the Google ecosystem. Like Android, if it turns out to be a pretty good OS that becomes massively popular, that’s a bonus for them. If it turns out to be a disaster, they can abandon it, it’s pocket change for them.

                                        1. 4

                                          My guess is that Google found that both ChromeOS and Android aren’t enough for business users, and are going all in on developing an alternative to Windows and macOS. Instead of .NET/C#, or Cocoa/Obj-C, you have Flutter/dart.

                                          I’d expect a series of notebooks, eventually, that are similar, hardware wise to Chromebook Pixel, running Fuschia, that can be members of the “Google Apps domain controller” but have a traditional set of applications that don’t just run in a browser.

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                                            If you look on YouTube, you’ll see people actually running the graphical/desktop Fuchsia, either in VMs or on Google hardware. A lot of stuff is broken, but it gives you an idea of what the graphical environment will eventually look like.

                                            1. 1

                                              The plan to strip away all the legacy from unix was apparently numbered nine, which fell off with its parent company.

                                              It’s good that google is carrying it over with a bucket of bright paint. Namespace is great. FIDL is really just two letter more than fd. I really hope google will carry it through. No one want a plan b.

                                              Once Fuchsia achieves acme, I will be happy to run it in qemu.

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                                              1. 3

                                                I’d be curious to know if there is a color scheme with a continuous mapping from light to dark.

                                                1. 1

                                                  A lot of these linter plugins appear to be licensed under the AGPL, so heads up if your organization has concerns about this license.

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                                                    Please limit the size of pull requests under 300 lines, otherwise it would be rather hard to review the code. If you have a big feature to add, please consider splitting it into multiple pull requests.

                                                    This is amazing to have in a contributions guide, and I wish it was more prevalent. I think developers believe splitting things into small chunks slows things down and adds unnecessary overhead, but given how faster small PRs are reviewed they’re usually landed earlier and more frequently than their bulkier counterparts. Developers initially hate breaking up PRs so it’s good to have this sentiment front and center.

                                                    1. 3

                                                      I love jq but I find its syntax impossible to understand. Every time I use it I look up examples for even basic things. Maybe it makes more sense if you know javascript? I’m not saying I could design something better, just that I’ve struggled with it far more than I expected.

                                                      1. 5

                                                        I also have to look things up all the time with jq, takes a while to write scripts, but when they’re done, they work great. For exploratory stuff however, https://github.com/tomnomnom/gron is much simpler

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                                                        I feel like a lot of the author’s concerns (interruptibility, urgency) can be addressed by putting into place the recommendations of The Asshole Filter. Specifically:

                                                        • Encourage people to use low-interruption methods like tickets, email or bugs (whatever you or your team has declared ‘the right way’ to be contacted).
                                                        • If anyone attempts to priority-bump in an inappropriate manner, refuse to help until they go through the proper channel. “Sure I can help, can you please file a ticket so we can track this?” etc.
                                                        • Actively check and respond to items submitted ‘the right way.’ This is critical – people need to feel that the best way to get what they need is to go through the appropriate channel. As soon as people get the impression that tickets/emails/bugs are never checked, they’ll attempt to priority-bump and then you’re back to square one.
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                                                          I am often a dick, I am often difficult

                                                          Turns out this matters more than you’d think.

                                                          1. 2

                                                            I am curious why SmartBear would change their own graph…

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                                                              I’ve worked on a team with twenty minute builds (also a C++ application), and found that all sorts of practices are rejected because “build times”. Test-first? I’m not waiting twenty minutes to see my failed test, so I’ll get it working then I’ll add tests. Actually, it looks like this is hard to test, I’ll skip it just this once. Continuous integration? I’m not twiddling my thumbs waiting for Jenkins, I’ll merge then fix any problems later. Pay down some technical debt? Why would I spend half a day moving the build from 20 mins to 19.5 mins? No thanks.

                                                              On the other hand, who’s doing clean builds? If you change one file then your incremental build is, based on your estimate, around a third of a second. That’s acceptable. And Google presumably have some computers to throw at the problem to use distributed compilation and artefact caches. It’s possible that Google does not have compilation time problems, but does have data centre management and CI scale problems.

                                                              1. 7

                                                                There’s also the issue that some changes require recompilation of almost everything. Want to disable debug mode such that debug assertions don’t crash Chromium? Well, time to find something else to do for the day and let the build server compile chromium overnight. Let’s hope no issues come up during the compilation, because then maybe only half the project was compiled, and most of tomorrow goes to waiting for it to compile too.

                                                                You’re probably right that Google has a ton of compute power to throw at the problem though.

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                                                                  Our build system keeps two build trees, one for debug and one for release.

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                                                                    Google has a ton of compute power to throw at the problem though.

                                                                    It does, and is how Chromium works around the problem – super beefy development machines.

                                                                  2. 1

                                                                    Test First in C++ can be beneficial. It can bias you toward making new abstractions with fewer dependencies rather than hacking things onto existing structures - because the latter gives you those 20 minute compile times. Better to have something that can just compile as cpp/h pair that stands alone with only a few includes.

                                                                    1. 1

                                                                      we have even longer build cycles, but we’ve learned the hard way enough times that a bug caught in CI is worth 10 caught in production, easily.

                                                                      Being patient and making sure that test tooling is always improving is also super important. Tests shouldn’t be written in a throwaway manner, because that makes the experience even that more miserable.

                                                                    1. 17

                                                                      If only json had allowed trailing commas in lists and maps.

                                                                      1. 9

                                                                        And /* comments! */

                                                                        1. 3

                                                                          And 0x... hex notation…

                                                                          1. 3

                                                                            Please no. If you want structured configs, use yaml. JSON is not supposed to contain junk, it’s a wire format.

                                                                            1. 4

                                                                              But YAML is an incredibly complex and truth be told, rather surprising format. Every time I get it, I convert it to JSON and go on with my life. The tooling and support for JSON is a lot better, I think YAMLs place is on the sidelines of history.

                                                                              1. 4

                                                                                it’s a wire format

                                                                                If it’s a wire format not designed to be easily read by humans, why use a textual representation instead of binary?

                                                                                If it’s a wire format designed to be easily read by humans, why not add convenience for said humans?

                                                                                1. 1

                                                                                  Things don’t have to be black and white, and they don’t even have to be specifically designed to be something. I can’t know what Douglas Crockford was thinking when he proposed JSON, but the fact is that since then it did become popular as a data interchange format. It means it was good enough and better than the alternatives at the time. And is still has its niche despite a wide choice of alternatives along the spectrum.

                                                                                  What I’m saying is that adding comments is not essential a sure-fire way to make it better. It’s a trade-off, with a glaring disadvantage of being backwards incompatible. Which warrants my “please no”.

                                                                              2. 1

                                                                                http://hjson.org/ is handy for human-edited config files.

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                                                                                2. 5

                                                                                  The solutions exist!


                                                                                  I don’t know why it’s not more popular, especially among go people.

                                                                                  There is also http://json-schema.org/

                                                                                  1. 3

                                                                                    I had to do a bunch of message validation in a node.js app a while ago. Although as Tim Bray says the spec’s pretty impenetrable and the various libraries inconsistent, once I’d got my head round JSON Schema and settled on ajv as a validator, it really helped out. Super easy to dynamically generate per message-type handler functions from the schema.

                                                                                    1. 2

                                                                                      One rather serious problem with json5 is its lack of unicode.

                                                                                    2. 3

                                                                                      I think this only show that JSON has chosen tradeoff that make it more geared to be edited by software, but has the advantage of being human editable/readable for debugging. JSON as config is not appropriate. There is so many more appropriate format (toml, yaml or even ini come to mind), why would you pick the one that doesn’t allows comments and nice sugar such as trailing commas or multiline string. I like how kubernetes does use YAML as its configuration files, but seems to work internally with JSON.

                                                                                      1. 8

                                                                                        IMO YAML is not human-friendly, being whitespace-sensitive. TOML isn’t great for nesting entries.

                                                                                        Sad that JSON made an effort to be human-friendly but missed that last 5% that everyone wants. Now we have a dozen JSON supersets which add varying levels of complexity on top.

                                                                                        1. 11

                                                                                          “anything whitespace sensitive is not human friendly” is a pretty dubious claim

                                                                                          1. 5

                                                                                            Solution: XML.

                                                                                            Not even being ironic here. It has everything you’d want.

                                                                                            1. 5

                                                                                              And a metric ton of stuff you do not want! (Not to mention…what humans find XML friendly?)

                                                                                              This endless cycle of reinvention of S-expressions with slightly different syntax depresses me. (And yeah, I did it too.)

                                                                                              1. -5


                                                                                                1. 13

                                                                                                  Keep this shit off lobsters.

                                                                                        1. 2

                                                                                          It’s a bit long, but buried in the document is this:

                                                                                          Well-defined strict priorities, communicated to everyone, can get you to launch 2x-4x faster than just letting engineers work on whatever seemed important at the time.

                                                                                          1. 7

                                                                                            A friend of mine is Québécois and lives in a French-speaking town on the border of English-speaking Ottawa. Using Google maps navigation is apparently a huge pain there, because the text-to-speech doesn’t know how to flip between languages mid-trip.

                                                                                            1. 4

                                                                                              It also cannot cope with Dutch street/place names when giving instruction in English. It really mangles things like Lage Rijndijk and Willem de Zwijgerlaan.

                                                                                            1. 3

                                                                                              Dhall looks really interesting. After being burned by turing-complete configuration languages in previous projects, I’m glad someone has taken the time to tackle the problem seriously.

                                                                                              1. 32

                                                                                                His stance is laid out more clearly later in the thread.

                                                                                                People should basically always feel like they can update their kernel and simply not have to worry about it.

                                                                                                I refuse to introduce “you can only update the kernel if you also update that other program” kind of limitations. If the kernel used to work for you, the rule is that it continues to work for you.

                                                                                                And I seriously will refuse to take code from people who do not understand and honor this very simple rule.

                                                                                                1. 23

                                                                                                  Also relevant is John Johansen’s response.

                                                                                                  1. 29

                                                                                                    What a difference between his first post and this one. In the first one he comes off like a colossally toxic asshat. I know this is no surprise to anyway, but still. That kind of behavior is not OK. Period.

                                                                                                    This post on the other hand is clear headed and explanatory. It lays out the rules and why it’s important to follow them.

                                                                                                    Maybe Linus just needs a 1h send buffer? :)

                                                                                                    1. 2

                                                                                                      “That behavior is not OK” is equivalent to “I am offended”, for this case.

                                                                                                      For all types of behavior, you can always find someone that thinks it is not OK. Should it matter? It would be severly limiting for everyone on a place like the Internet.

                                                                                                      1. 19

                                                                                                        It’s not “I am offended”, but rather probably 95% of people would be offended if they would hear something like this headed their way. Linus probably forgot how it’s like to hear this level of toxic communication because nobody speaks with him like that. I know his “ideology” behind his behavior (he talked about this several times), but honestly saying such “sh**” to people is low, and most people are above that, that’s why he stands out.

                                                                                                        1. 3

                                                                                                          Personally this power relationship is why I’m against BDFLs once a project reaches a certain size.

                                                                                                          1. 1

                                                                                                            I agree in principle. In practice I have to wonder - what are the alternatives? Design by committee has some well known flaws :)

                                                                                                          2. -1

                                                                                                            Do you even know what toxic means ?

                                                                                                            1. 8

                                                                                                              Toxic means that it is in some way damaging to a relationship between two individuals, groups, etc. In this case it is indeed toxic because it seeks to gain in some goal at the cost of the relationship with the submitters. Toxic isn’t strictly bad, sometimes a goal is so important that you need to break the relationship, however you should always choose the least toxic strategy that will ensure success. After all who knows when you’re going to need those people’s help in the future.

                                                                                                              In summary, dark_grimoire seems to have a correct understanding of toxic, and mytrile does not which I assume is why they are being downvoted.

                                                                                                          3. 22

                                                                                                            It would be severly limiting

                                                                                                            It’s already limiting though – many people silently stop contributing when they receive messages like this or never consider contributing in the first place. This means the negative impact is hidden. Since it’s hidden, it becomes much easier to defend the status quo when an alternative might result in a better kernel.

                                                                                                            1. 6

                                                                                                              By the same logic, the positive impact is also hidden. Because it is conceivable that without these messages, the kernel might have imploded upon itself, and the prevention of said implosion is doubtlessly positive.

                                                                                                              If you are going to argue with hidden stuff then it goes both ways.

                                                                                                              1. 10

                                                                                                                Do you really believe that it’s not possible to enforce rules and maintain high standards without calling people idiots, their contributions garbage, and so on?

                                                                                                                I can certainly believe the parent comment, as it’s something I hear regularly, from people who decide not to get involved in projects/make further contributions/pursue opportunities at companies/etc because of things like this. FWIW, one of my friends can be found in the kernel CREDITS, and decided to walk away because of the LKML.

                                                                                                                1. 6

                                                                                                                  it is conceivable that without these messages, the kernel might have imploded upon itself

                                                                                                                  As a counterpoint, I’ve worked on a project that has a similar code size, customer reach, and zero-tolerance stance on security and stability bugs as the Linux kernel: Chromium. Chromium does not have anywhere near the level of abusive discourse on its mailing list as the LKML, and it has not imploded on itself as you have suggested. So the burden of proof is on the abusive language to show it is needed and not the other way around.

                                                                                                              2. 7

                                                                                                                I disagree. I am not offended by his behavior, I find it to be unacceptable by virtue of the fact that I feel human beings should treat each other with a modicum of respect. Linus’s communications very often do not meet that standard. Hence from my book they do not represent an acceptable way to treat people, especially people volunteering to donate time to an open source project.

                                                                                                              3. -5

                                                                                                                Who are you to say what’s OK?

                                                                                                                1. 16

                                                                                                                  He can certainly say what’s OK and NOT OK in his opinion.