How easy is it to screw up? Very easy

Michael Feathers reflects on the tendency to make software easier to be written.

“We keep doing things in the industry to make programming easier. What do we get? We get poorly written, unmaintainable code in many cases.”

Is programming too easy? found on

In my opinion people tend to think they are good programmers when they know the ins and outs of some language. While in fact a good programmer can see abstractions, knows how parts of the context relate to each other, sees what stays the same en what varies and then finally can translate this model to some implementation in some programming language.

The article reminded me of an argument between two of my colleagues when discussing the introduction of a typical release line: development, test and production servers.

“But then it will be harder to quickly repair bugs!?”

“Yes, and it will be harder to introduce bugs quickly”

Both were right.


One Response to “How easy is it to screw up? Very easy”

  1. riesch Says:

    C++ was a real experience for the industry. Writing a good C++ program was and is hard work.

    Of course I agree and it’s good to see that my self-punishment of writing exclusively in C++ over all these years has been for a reason :P.

    However the article does bring up something I’ve been promoting over the years. A language like Visual Basic brings a lot of horror in the world. It is indeed to easy to write something, but I would also like to add that it offers too many language-constructs which make it very difficult to read the source-code written by others. They will have a different coding-style and use different language-constructs. Perl is also a good example, this quote is taken from an interview with the creator of perl about the upcoming release of a perl 6:

    In Perl 6 we actually give the programmer control over the individual grammar rules and even sub-rules

    This freaks me out, because I think it means that every programmer can define syntactical rules, which would leave the perl-scripts in chaos.

    Perhaps we should all program in C/C++ and the world will be a better place.

    btw, did you see this ? It’s not programming, but it is impressive:

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