Book Image

Understanding Software

By : Max Kanat-Alexander
Book Image

Understanding Software

By: Max Kanat-Alexander

Overview of this book

In Understanding Software, Max Kanat-Alexander, Technical Lead for Code Health at Google, shows you how to bring simplicity back to computer programming. Max explains to you why programmers suck, and how to suck less as a programmer. There’s just too much complex stuff in the world. Complex stuff can’t be used, and it breaks too easily. Complexity is stupid. Simplicity is smart. Understanding Software covers many areas of programming, from how to write simple code to profound insights into programming, and then how to suck less at what you do! You'll discover the problems with software complexity, the root of its causes, and how to use simplicity to create great software. You'll examine debugging like you've never done before, and how to get a handle on being happy while working in teams. Max brings a selection of carefully crafted essays, thoughts, and advice about working and succeeding in the software industry, from his legendary blog Code Simplicity. Max has crafted forty-three essays which have the power to help you avoid complexity and embrace simplicity, so you can be a happier and more successful developer. Max's technical knowledge, insight, and kindness, has earned him code guru status, and his ideas will inspire you and help refresh your approach to the challenges of being a developer.
Table of Contents (50 chapters)
Understanding Software
Credits
About the Author
www.PacktPub.com
Customer Feedback
Foreword
2
The Engineer Attitude
3
The Singular Secret of the Rockstar Programmer
4
Software Design, in Two Sentences
5
Clues to Complexity
6
Ways To Create Complexity: Break Your API
7
When Is Backwards-Compatibility Not Worth It?
8
Complexity is a Prison
10
The Accuracy of Future Predictions
11
Simplicity and Strictness
12
Two is Too Many
14
What is a Bug?
24
What is a Computer?
25
The Components of Software: Structure, Action, and Results
27
Software as Knowledge
30
Simplicity and Security
34
How We Figured Out What Sucked
36
Why Programmers Suck
38
Developer Hubris
39
"Consistency" Does Not Mean "Uniformity"
42
Success Comes from Execution, Not Innovation
Index

Find the Real Cause


Eventually you will find something that a working system does not do. You shouldn't immediately assume you've found the cause of the problem when you see this, though. For example, maybe it logs a message saying, "Error: insects are eating all the cookies." One way that you could "fix" that behavior would be to delete the log message. Now the behavior is like normal, right? No, wrong – the actual bug is still happening.

That's a pretty stupid example, but people do less-stupid versions of this that don't fix the bug. They don't get down to the basic cause of the problem, as I explain in Chapter 16, Make It Never Come Back. Instead they paper over the bug with some workaround that lives in the codebase forever and causes complexity for everybody who works on that area of the code from then on.

It's not even sufficient to say "You will know that you have found the real cause because fixing that fixes the bug." That's pretty close to the truth, but a closer statement is:

"You...