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What’s an unpopular software opinion you have?

Ben Halpern
A Canadian software developer who thinks he’s funny. He/Him.
・1 min read

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Discussion (337)

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sergio profile image
deleteme deleteme • Edited
  1. TDD is a meme and you shouldn't be writing tests before you even know what your modules will look like.

  2. Writing code is an art form. It takes intuition and freeform thought to structure things.

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anortef profile image
Adrián Norte
  1. TDD is the only way to create code that is maintainable and extensible. Unless of course, what you are making is utterly simple.

  2. Writing code is a science, not an art. The problem is that humans have spent less than 60 years doing code and we do not have the hang of it completely that is why point 1.

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frothandjava profile image
Scot McSweeney-Roberts

_ is the only way to create code that is maintainable and extensible

That's what they said about COBOL.

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610yesnolovely profile image
Harvey Thompson • Edited

And when some wise guys at Cambridge said, hey we've invented a replacement to COBOL called "CPL" everyone said "We don't need yet another programming language!"

(CPL -> BCPL -> C -> C++/ObjectiveC -> Java/C#/Swift/Kotlin/Go/Scala/...)

So, I've added another of my unpopular opinions:

We will always need Yet Another Programming Language

Because as Adrián said, we're pretty new at this, and so we need better tools. We're still in the software stone age.

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yucer profile image
yucer • Edited

Thank you for the quotation. I have the same opinion. We don't need too many more programming languages and frameworks.

With the programming languages happen the same that with the mobile phones. The unique reason new ones are needed is to make the old ones obsoletes and try to take control of the market.

Can someone really tell me why was Ruby needed in the moment of its creation? What does it provide that could not be added to existing languages?

The principle of "Do not repeat yourself" that science respect is not not followed most of the time.

It seems that the theory behind sofware development doesn't matter anymore and the they're is a global hype on languages like Javascript that is dangerous becoming the ground stones of apps without being so mature as language or some optimal for execution.

It is like if some new tech allows to recycle the garbage in a new material javascriptolite and they're is a boom in sell of cars with "futuristic" look, low weight and a hammer toolkit to shape it yourself to the shape you like.

Of course many skilled people will make from Javascriptolite a new market. But some day people will start to read again physics and mechanics.

Or would somebody build an space ship from that material?

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stemmlerjs profile image
Khalil Stemmler • Edited
  1. I tend to agree that TDD is a bit excessive, but I strongly believe in a BDD approach which is very common in Domain-Driven Design. Writing the failing test cases that describe how what use cases, policies and rules a system should have is much more likely to be known at the start of a project than if "computeXYCoordinates()" returns false :)

  2. Writing code is a mixture of both!

It's science!

  • Computer "SCIENCE" is theory. The way that mathematics, physics and information work together to "determine how many users this application will be able support under peak hours" is a bit of physics, math, and probability all in one!

A very common feature in science is that it's very hard (and sometimes impossible) to prove that something is correct, so we often deem things correct enough if we can't prove it to be false.

That's unit testing :)

Computer "programming/coding" is the practical application of such theory. It's also what leans more in the direction of....

Art!

  • There are 100s of ways of writing code to perform the same observable behaviour. It takes skill, practice, patience and empathy to create code that is timeless, well-designed and readable for future developers.
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rerb profile image
Robert Erb

Writing code is hardly science, any more than writing fiction is. We are craftsmen and -women, not scientists.

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metacritical profile image
Pankaj Doharey

The word Craftsmen has nothing to do with gender it does mean -women aswell.
Craftswomen is not even a word in English.

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gtanyware profile image
Graham Trott • Edited

That's an unfortunate accident of the English language. It's not a problem elsewhere (mann/frau, uomo/donna, etc). Ask a computer and it would say "woman contains man so the former is more generic".

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metacritical profile image
Pankaj Doharey • Edited

I think this isn't a fight we should be focusing on, there are much bigger battles to fight for gender equality, this kind of petty and surgical word picking just brings bad name to the whole issue, which so many feminists fail to understand.

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drm317 profile image
Daniel Marlow

Yep.

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molly profile image
Molly Struve (she/her) • Edited

😂 In a fit of frustration on Friday afternoon bc I couldn't get specs to cooperate I put this message in slack. I'm kidding of course, mostly....

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desi profile image
Desi

hahahaha

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almostconverge profile image
Peter Ellis
  1. TDD has its place, in some scenarios it's the only sensible option, but its benefits in general are massively overstated.

  2. Writing code is more like artisanship. I feel I've got more in common with someone who builds bespoke wooden furniture than a painter.

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jcdickinson profile image
Jonathan Dickinson
  1. ...

I think the truth exists somewhere in the middle. I did a coding dojo with a brilliant manager a few years back on TDD, and learned a lot about the value of unit tests.

The first advantage is that it gives you a usable API (API is UX). It's all too easy to get tunnel vision and write an unusable API because you've never attempted to use it. The "doesn't compile" step in TDD makes sure that you are trying to use the thing before making the thing.

The other advantage is that it prevents you from solving problems that don't exist. The specific example we had was roman numerals. At the start of the session I felt a bit of dread: roman numerals are, superficially, pretty hard to parse. Working through "I" to "III" to "MCVIII" resulted in a complete solution that was far simpler than the one I conjured up before we started coding.

But, you'd never get anything done if you followed TDD strictly.

I think the middle ground is writing your code while visualizing the test. This ensures that you are writing units (which are easier to use and obviously easier to unit test).

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Brian Hanna

Couldn't agree more. TDD is workable when you're well staffed and have some discretion over deadlines. Otherwise it's an incredibly difficult sell from a business value standpoint, unfortunately. Especially if you're in an organization where certain delivery timelines are expected regularly

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Chris Bennetts

Most of the cost of software is after the initial build. TDD helps keep it decoupled so it's easier and cheaper to maintain in the long term. TDD software probably has better TCO.

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sublimegeek profile image
Jonathan Irvin

Write the code. Does it work? Write a test to prove it. Write more tests as you think of ways to break it.

Found a bug? Fix it. Write a test to prove it was fixed.

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lildvlpr profile image
Nestor Zepeda

I don't think you have to let software/coding consume your life to be good at it. It's ok if you don't code outside of work. It's ok to have a life outside of this.

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sergio profile image
deleteme deleteme • Edited

Caveat: you need to make peace with the fact that you will never be as good or experienced as the guy that codes in his free time for fun.

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lvrbrtsn profile image
Levi ᕙ(⇀‸↼‶)ᕗ

I totally disagree being a well rounded human with other hobbies and strong soft skills is better than a dude who codes 24/7 especially when that dude gets burnt out.

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sergio profile image
Comment marked as low quality/non-constructive by the community. View Code of Conduct
deleteme deleteme

Objectively speaking the captain autismo who codes 24/7 will always write code better than someone who only does it 9 to 5. We're not really arguing which is best for the human.

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lvrbrtsn profile image
Levi ᕙ(⇀‸↼‶)ᕗ

No the half asleep burned out Red Bull fueled constant coder is going to write sloppy code and insist his coworkers are just too dumb to read it.

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markjohnson303 profile image
Mark Johnson 👔

@sergio - hey, that "captain autismo" comment seems pretty inappropriate. You might want to reconsider that.

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lildvlpr profile image
Nestor Zepeda

True, very true.

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akmur profile image
Alex Muraro 🇪🇺

Yes, because the dude that codes 24/7 in 3 years might be going into another field altogether, while a somebody that takes it slower might be in the game longer.

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anortef profile image
Adrián Norte

In my experience, more than 10 years, that is wishful thinking.

The people who code 24/7 on personal or open source things love doing this to a point of near obsession and I know of some who have been living that way for more than 15 years (yeah, meet them when we were teenagers and they lived glued to computer science books) and at that point you just have to accept that you will never be nearly as good as them and then be glad to be able to learn from them.

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akmur profile image
Alex Muraro 🇪🇺

Yeah you're probably right :)

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pavlosisaris profile image
Paul Isaris

You can write good quality code in PHP :)

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jackharner profile image
Jack Harner 🚀

I love PHP. It's the thing I've spent the most time with so it's what I'm most comfortable with.

I'm starting to learn React and playing around with Python a little bit at work, but PHP is what I've always used and always want to come back to.

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pavlosisaris profile image
Paul Isaris

Exactly, that was my point. you can write clean code in any language ;)

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anortef profile image
Adrián Norte

Of course you can, do not let anyone tell you otherwise. Most of the time when people bash PHP it's because the scenarios on where it is the ideal language to use are very narrow.

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thehanna profile image
Brian Hanna

Or because they haven't used it recently. PHP 7 really turned my opinion around on it. As did Laravel

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mccabiles profile image
Miguel

Does it count if I use a PHP framework? I mainly use Laravel :D

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evanroggenkamp profile image
Evan Roggenkamp

Laravel is awesome.

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pavlosisaris profile image
Paul Isaris

Me too ;)

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lietux profile image
Janne "Lietu" Enberg

Really, PHP as a language is so restricting that there are a lot of things you simply cannot and should not code in it. Additionally the whole design for the typical use of the language - a collection scripts that get evaluated from start to end for every web request, triggered by access through a web server - is so bad that it has lead to countless incredibly misguided design decisions and massive numbers of hacks and other issues.

As an example, there's WordPress having all the modules deployed under the public folder and then access to them gets you direct "access" to the code, so all you need to find is one ignorant developer's one bad module and scan the world for all installations of it to hack a big pile of websites. This is the legacy PHP has given us.

Add to that the fact that the language has countless really bad design choices, that simply waste your brain power in useless things - does the function have underscores, does it take haystack before needle, and other such questions constantly waste your time when they could be standardized, and the language community simply refuses to fix their countless past mistakes keeping "backwards compatibility" as some sort of gold standard that must never be sacrificed.

In short: Yes, you can produce code that is better than WordPress in PHP, but you can never be a good programmer while using PHP - you waste too much of your time on things other than producing good code.

Everyone really should read this if they haven't eev.ee/blog/2012/04/09/php-a-fract...

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molly profile image
Molly Struve (she/her) • Edited

In order to help junior devs grow you have to let them struggle. You can't give them all the answers, they have to spend time in the trenches finding the answers themselves with a little guidance.

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Olivier “Ölbaum” Scherler

Something I do when mentoring a junior developer is to tell them that if they get stuck on something, they should try and solve it by themselves for fifteen minutes (adjust the duration depending on the situation) before they ask for help. But if they’re still stuck on the same thing after these fifteen minutes, they have to ask for help.

I found it has many benefits. First, it makes it clear that it’s OK to ask for help. Second, it sets a balance between them interrupted you too often (which is frustrating to you) and not making much progress (which is frustrating to them, which is worse). Often, when they finally come for help, even though they’ll fell that they were just stuck for 15 minutes, in reality they will have come close to the solution, and you can show them how they almost solved it.

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stealthmusic profile image
Jan Wedel

I often recognized that Juniors “just” lack of
confidence, not of knowledge.

They know the answer but are not sure if it’s the right one.

One step away from being a Junior is to just do it. Better ask for forgiveness than for permission.

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Tari R. Alfaro

I've been in the field of coding in general for around 4 years. Even though I know I have worked really hard, I've never done anything professional and I fear I will do horrible with an actual job.

Never done anything besides experimenting and personal projects. And I constantly feel like a Junior dev that has no clue what they're doing.

Especially since I've been focusing in the security aspects of things, I feel like I have barely touched the surface of things.

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molly profile image
Molly Struve (she/her)

First off, kudos to you for focusing on the security aspects of things! That puts you ahead of a lot of others.

I have been coding professionally for 6 years, and let me tell you, I have plenty of days still where I have no clue what I am doing!

The tech world moves so fast and evolves so quickly that even those who have been in the field for years have to constantly learn new things. Because we are all constantly learning, we are all juniors or newbies at one thing or another. The key is you have to become OK with being uncomfortable and know that its just part of being a dev.

I also bet because you have done lots of experimenting and personal projects you are probably pretty self sufficient and scrappy which are both GREAT characteristics to have as a dev. Don't be intimidated by the word "professional", give it a shot and apply for a job! If you want some more motivation read this post my coworker wrote.

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tarialfaro profile image
Tari R. Alfaro

Thanks for the wonderful post. You write great articles BTW.

There are a lot of talented people on here.

It's nice seeing everyone trying to get together.

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donaldng profile image
Donald Ng

"Better ask for forgiveness than for permission.", nicely put love it!

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zablon18 profile image
Fernando Zablah

Maybe too unpopular but here it is:

Apple's Macs are way overrated for software development, not worth the money (at least for me) for the hardware specs of their computers, I feel like I only have to use one because they force developers to compile iOS apps in a Mac. Some people say they like its terminal because its better, and they are correct, out of the box its terminal is very good, but you could setup correctly your terminal in Windows or Linux to run as the Mac one, saving you hundreds of dollars and having much better hardware.

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Laen

I don't understand how Apple could've thought it a good idea to remove the escape key and without at least one USB-A port.

I've used Macs for 10 years because I can't stand Windows, and I need some applications that aren't available for Linux. Pretty sure my next mac will be a hackintosh.

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anortef profile image
Adrián Norte

I like using them because I find them at a sweet spot between the freedom of Linux and the maintenance a Window need. But I can totally see your point.

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frothandjava profile image
Scot McSweeney-Roberts

This probably counts as another unpopular opinion, but Windows (10 with WSL and an X Server installed) isn't that bad.

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donaldng profile image
Donald Ng

Exactly this, the reason I am using Mac right now, and boy it feels good!

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Tom VanAntwerp

I've got a 2015 MacBook at home that I love developing with. But I wouldn't want to buy a current model, not with all the keyboard issues and lack of anything-but-USB-C ports. Year after year, Apple feels more like a luxury/lifestyle brand than a technology company.

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Bertil Muth

Kudos to the ternary operator! I greatly appreciate your compactness from time to time! And don’t let those bullies tell you you’re hard to read. You are fine just the way you are. W?t:f.

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turnerj profile image
James Turner • Edited

Key phrase: time-to-time

Don't mind ternary operators for simple cases but once someone starts putting multiple function calls in each part of the operator, it makes it difficult to debug.

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astarael2 profile image
Simon Mills

Very much this. If you have more than one ternary operation in a statement, you need to not use any.

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frothandjava profile image
Scot McSweeney-Roberts

The main argument against it seems to be "junior devs won't understand it". I think the answer to that is that they should learn the language.

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ronjdaugherty34 profile image
Ronald Daugherty • Edited

Yeah sometimes a deep dive into the language will clear up most problems you have as a Jr.

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern Author

lol

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niorad profile image
Antonio Radovcic

Not sure if unpopular but:

The term "Impostor Syndrome" is way too overused.

What people usually feel is not I.S., but they are simply realizing how little they know.
Which is totally fine and also important.
You can be a non-master in a field and still get paid to do it.
It doesn't mean your boss/followers/mom/dad thinks you're much better than you actually are.

I just hope folks don't take I.S. as excuse to think they are good at something while they're not.

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aimerib profile image
Aimeri Baddouh

I agree in some level with this sentiment. I can't speak for others, but for myself I often struggle with recognizing whether I'm suffering from Impostor Syndrome or if I'm just recognizing how little I actually know about something the more I learn about it. The more I learn, the more I realize how little I actually know and how much more there is to learn. I suppose this is the Denning-Kruger effect in action!

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sergio profile image
deleteme deleteme

Ouch no responses, you hit a nerve :D

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niorad profile image
Antonio Radovcic

Not sure, maybe the post simply has too many replies. Or maybe it‘s not an unpopular opinion, therefore it‘s not a good reply 😬

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safijari profile image
Jariullah Safi

A person thinking they have impostor syndrome to feel good about themselves by definition can't have impostor syndrome 😅

It is a debilitating trench from which the climb out is very difficult. All the people I know that I consider to truly have impostor syndrome are excellent at what they do and what they understand, their brains are just not able to accept their victories.

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James Hickey

Inheritance is 99.9% of the time (e.g. always...) the wrong decision.

Inheritance, after-all, is one of the strongest forms of coupling you can introduce into your code ;)

There's usually a way to use composition to achieve the same thing.

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern Author

Yeah, I kind of wish that hadn’t been such a big part of my formal education.

I only did some CS and so much of it revolved around inheritance in Java that I found myself looking for opportunities to use inheritance in the wrong places.

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jamesmh profile image
James Hickey

I feel you there. Been there done that 😋

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garfbradaz profile image
Gareth Bradley

James, didn't you do a Composition over inheritance post?

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hryggrbyr profile image
Thomas Rigby

MPJ has a video on it. Very good imo 😀
youtu.be/wfMtDGfHWpA

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jamesmh profile image
James Hickey

I don't think so... but it's something I've had in my head to do someday!

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rhymes profile image
rhymes • Edited

Agreed.

Composition is 99% of the times a better choice :D

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deleugyn profile image
Marco Aurélio Deleu

The Template pattern happens a lot more than just 0.1%

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detunized profile image
Dmitry Yakimenko • Edited

Agile and Scrum are dumb. Daily stand-ups, planning poker, scrum masters and all that other stuff is a waste of time, money and office space. So far I'm yet to see this pseudo process help any team that is not good in the first place to get and perform better.

Also Agile is the worst misnomer in the software dev world. There's nothing agile about Agile.

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Scot McSweeney-Roberts

What I "love" is when you're in a retrospective and you're asked for ideas that would make things better, but when you state your idea you're shouted down because "that's not agile".

Also, the idea that the amount of effort required is equal amongst developers is nonsense.

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elmuerte profile image
Michiel Hendriks

What Agile are you referring to? The one from the Agile Manifesto? Or the one most companies claim to practice?

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detunized profile image
Dmitry Yakimenko

Since I'm speaking from experience, I'm guessing it's the latter. But who cares about some unicorn in the sky if all we get is the real thing?

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elmuerte profile image
Michiel Hendriks

One of the first things which goes out of the windows with most companies which adopt a Scrum way of working is the agile part of it. But there are companies which do adhere to the agile manifesto.

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Adrián Norte

Daily stand-ups serve the purpose of putting the team on sync. If your team is 3 people in size, then they are ridiculous.

Planning Poker, if done correctly serves a very important purpose as I explain here:

Real Scrum Masters (not a person who used to have the title of project manager) serve the purpose of helping the team organize who does what and taking care of any lack of clarity on the stories.

Scrum is the name that Agile receives when applied to software development. Agile is getting feedback as quickly as possible about the decisions you make. I feel that if anyone works using the alternative, waterfall, then that person is the worst engineer it can be.

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detunized profile image
Dmitry Yakimenko

From my experience a good team keeps themselves in sync naturally. There are tickets/issues, Slack, email, old fashioned p2p talking. There weren't many stand-ups so far, where I learned something interesting or got synced up. Usually it's just a reiteration of the stuff that I already know or something I'll get to know later during the day anyway. People just say what they did or going to do. If it's interesting for me, I already know it, otherwise I don't need to hear it.

I think the team which lacks clarity in stories doesn't need a scrum master, but rather learn more about the product they are building and talk more to their teammates. You don't need an extra freeloader on the team to help with that.

Agile and waterfall are not the only alternatives. I don't have a name for it, but another approach would be a "natural organic team approach" where everyone is just getting their and common shit done, where the communication and planning happen naturally. In the right setting it just works. I've worked in the company, believe it or not, where we had about 40 people working on the product and there was not a single meeting dedicated to project management. We did have meetings, but they were extremely rare, like one in 3 months to announce something serious usually. Like a new future project, or that we're moving to a new building, but not to decide who works on which task. And in that company I and the whole company was amazingly productive, much more productive than in any other agile or process-less company I worked for before or after.

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anortef profile image
Adrián Norte

And in that company I and the whole company was amazingly productive, much more productive than in any other agile or process-less company I worked for before or after.

That is the point. You want a reproducible system to make any team productive, not leave it to chance.

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detunized profile image
Dmitry Yakimenko • Edited

IMO introducing this type of agile process IS leaving it to chance, as it has no influence on the result. Something else has to be done to change improve things.

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sergio profile image
deleteme deleteme

They're big business now and command enormous groups and conferences. No matter their merit, they're not going anywhere because people out there sell agile to companies and teams for a living.

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carlymho profile image
Carly Ho 🌈
  1. Middleware frameworks are way overrated and overused
  2. Not everything is a problem that should be solved with software
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ben profile image
Ben Halpern Author

Damn, I agree with both big time!

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rhymes profile image
rhymes

Hallelujah for number 2. Tell it to Silicon Valley VCs 😂

What do you mean by middleware frameworks?

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carlymho profile image
Carly Ho 🌈

I wish they'd listen to me!

By middleware frameworks I mean things like React, Vue, etc, that are a javascript/front-end interface for the backend; they definitely have a lot of great uses but I think there's starting to be this idea that you have to have one when most sites don't, actually.

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rhymes profile image
rhymes

I wish they'd listen to me!

:-(

I think there's starting to be this idea that you have to have one when most sites don't, actually

Yeah I agree! I just wrote this comment about classic web apps with server rendered templates:

I see them often ignored in the context of new web apps.

It's like people don't even try anymore, they go straight to SPAs even if they don't really need to...

Even some articles about web development in general tend to set SPAs as a given and "older" MPAs as a deprecated alternative.

I think it goes in the same direction as yours...

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TunedMidja

A left curly bracket that marks the start of a code block should be placed on a new line.

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macram profile image
Manu Mateos

Only in Python.

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safijari profile image
Jariullah Safi

This is the best answer

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anortef profile image
Adrián Norte

heresy!

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tunedmidja profile image
TunedMidja

Why?

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anortef profile image
Adrián Norte

I just find it utterly ugly but it was more of a joke.

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donaldng profile image
Donald Ng
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lautarolobo profile image
Lautaro Lobo

That's a brave one!

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sergio profile image
deleteme deleteme

fite me

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subsr97 profile image
Subramanian 😎

You don't have that privilege in Go. 😂

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tunedmidja profile image
TunedMidja

😥

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edelvalle profile image
Eddy Ernesto del Valle Pino

curly brackets are syntax trash, they are for the compiler...
humans use indentation

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hryggrbyr profile image
Thomas Rigby

Languages that rely on indentation scare the bejeezus out of me! 😥

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joelnet profile image
JavaScript Joel

JavaScript is the greatest language of all time!

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stealthmusic profile image
Jan Wedel

Have you tried any others? 😎

No, seriously, I’d like to know why you think so. Maybe you could explain why.

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joelnet profile image
JavaScript Joel • Edited

I started with basic on the C64. Then Amiga Basic. QBASIC. Cobol. C. C++. Perl. JavaScript. ASP. Visual Basic. VB.net C#. PHP.

Too a Haskell course but haven't done anything with it.

So I guess... Yes.

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stealthmusic profile image
Jan Wedel

I’ve used a couple of those languages as well and it is obviously a very personal opinion.

So again:

Maybe you could explain why.

I am honestly interested.

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joelnet profile image
JavaScript Joel

Maybe you could explain why.

  • The community. Npmjs, etc. JavaScript has the largest community.

  • don't need any tools to get started. Can run in just a browser, which everyone has.

  • easy to share your programs. Send people a URL and they can see your code run.

  • runs everywhere. runs in the most popular app that everyone has, the web browser. Runs server side. Can be used to build mobile apps and more.

  • flexible. You want OOP or FP. You can program however you like.

  • backwards compatibility. The code you write today will still run in years to come.

And probably more I can't think of right now.

Cheers!

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stealthmusic profile image
Jan Wedel

Thanks!

I would say: Good points. So it’s more about the ecosystem than about the language itself. The above is probably also true to e.g. TypeScript, isn’t it?

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joelnet profile image
JavaScript Joel

Because TypeScript can leverage most of what JavaScript offers, it had a huge advantage over oth