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
About the Author
Customer Feedback
The Engineer Attitude
The Singular Secret of the Rockstar Programmer
Software Design, in Two Sentences
Clues to Complexity
Ways To Create Complexity: Break Your API
When Is Backwards-Compatibility Not Worth It?
Complexity is a Prison
The Accuracy of Future Predictions
Simplicity and Strictness
Two is Too Many
What is a Bug?
What is a Computer?
The Components of Software: Structure, Action, and Results
Software as Knowledge
Simplicity and Security
How We Figured Out What Sucked
Why Programmers Suck
Developer Hubris
"Consistency" Does Not Mean "Uniformity"
Success Comes from Execution, Not Innovation

Chapter 34. How We Figured Out What Sucked

So, if you've just read the previous chapter, you may well be asking, "Okay, but how do you figure out what sucks?"

Well, some of it's really obvious. You press a button and the program takes 10 minutes to respond. That sucks pretty bad. You get 100 complaints a week about the UI of a particular page – okay, so that sucks.

Usually there are one or two HUGE things that really suck, and they're really obvious – those are the things to focus on first, even if they require a tremendous amount of work. For example, before Bugzilla 3.0, Bugzilla had to compile every single library and the entire script it was about to run, every time you loaded a page. This added several seconds to each page load, on slower machines, and at least 1 second on faster machines. So performance was one big obvious thing that sucked about Bugzilla. But even more importantly, the code of Bugzilla sucked. It was being read by everybody – because people were frequently customizing...