Agile Programming Gripe

Alfred Thompson recently blogged about an interesting interview given by Bjarne Stroustrup, the inventor of C++, now professor of computer science at Texas A&M University. As ever the interviewers were after his prescription for the Silver Bullet that will save us all from ourselves. Alfred has already boiled down the interview to a couple of interesting sound bites, and I aim to do the same to his post. The quote that particularly caught my attention was Stroustrup’s comment on the ‘pragmatic‘ way in which modern software gets developed. When asked whether the solution might be to educate developers more fully, and to reward quality, and criticize sloppiness. Stroustrup points out that it will never work, because:

People reward developers who deliver software that is cheap, buggy, and first.

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2 comments

  1. Sadly, he’s not wrong. Quality is, yet again, being undermined by the “barely enough” movement. Makes me laugh at this industry even more than I did before.

    What really amuses me is the endlessly creative ways people find to dress up hacking and making sound like some kind of new “process”.

    Ho hum.

  2. So True. When I first moved to Australia, I worked for a telecommunications company (Lets call them Telstar). Telstar had a project management process called the Telstar Deliver Process (TDP). The project I was on was so badly run that development started prior to an architecture phase that was supposed to be a necessary prerequisite of any development.

    The TDP dictated that a solution architect (me) was required to liaise with the developers to produce a design. When I discovered that they were unwilling to rewrite the system to conform with my designs, I was told by others at Testar that “that’s OK, we have a process for this sort of thing – it’s called TDP-tailoring”. i.e. the process had an opt out clause in case things went badly – the project managers could still claim they did everything by the book, even when it was a shambles.

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