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    Different worlds

    Two people making opposite points can both be right. 21 year old Swiz would hate me for even considering this 🤣

    I used to love being a troll on the internet. Obviously I'm right and everyone else is wrong. With time I've learned that obviously I'm right and everyone else is ... also right. Let me explain.

    Yesterday I got into a debate about linters. You may think that's dumb, but the conversation held a nugget of gold so we kept going.

    PS: you can read and share this online

    Our positions were:

    A: I think linters will solve our problems 😍

    J: Linters are annoying and useless

    W: Linters are great, if you don't go crazy with config

    Swiz: Linters make work possible

    How can everyone be right

    Everyone in this conversation was right. They're not just parroting opinions from a book, blog, video, or podcast. These are hard earned opinions from experience.

    And everyone's a talented engineer with years, if not decades, of experience. When the beard is greying, you listen.

    But we live in different worlds. Our conclusions are situational.

    A is introducing code review and other engineering practices into a team of scientific coders. They think code is that thing you write to solve a mathematical puzzle, then throw away. The code is hard to read and difficult to maintain. The lesson that software engineering is programming over time hasn't sunk in yet.

    Linters will help a lot.

    J has lots of experience and primarily works alone. He doesn't bicker with anyone about superficial details and the code he writes is good enough. Sure, he'll format things differently if he feels like, but it's always readable to him.

    Linters are a waste of time.

    W works on a larger codebase with multiple teams making contributions. Enforcing consistency through code review would be a full time job. If every engineer makes 2 small oopsies per pull request, and everyone makes 2 PRs per day, that adds up fast.

    At my dayjob with about 15 product engineers, that makes 60 smol oopsies per day that someone has to catch. Unless you think code consistency doesn't matter at all in which case okay you do you.

    At Google scale this becomes unsolvable. You have to automate basic sanity checks or nothing gets done. In Software Engineering at Google they mention making multiple pull requests per second.

    Swiz ... well I've spent enough of my life with psychopaths on both ends of the code formatting spectrum. From people who write code that looks like keyboard diarrhea to people who spend hours every week lovingly crafting every line of code like it's a unique work of art.

    Then they review each others' code. It's great 🫠

    Even worse is when two artisans have opposing ideas on how to correctly craft the perfect line of code. Just thinking about that makes me wanna scream.


    PS: you can live your life like this XKCD comic or like Keanu Reeves. Choose wisely my friend

    Published on July 14th, 2023 in Mindset, Software Engineering

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