Saturday, November 24, 2012

Software Craftsmanship vs Hackers

Recently it came to my mind that there are two prime schools of programmers in the world. These two groups have opposite values and possess orthogonal skills.

The first group called "Software craftsmanship" is focused on the art of writing beautiful and flexible code. Talented people, who belong to this group, build beautiful software designs, practice TDD/BDD and re-factor their code until the last code-smell disappears. The role models for this group are people like uncle bob and they all have read pragmatic programmer and clean code books.

The other group is what we call "hackers". Not only in the sense of people practicing computer security and reverse engineering but also in the broader sense of people who have low level orientation, can quickly understand how closed system is working and modify it to server their purposes. These extraordinary people can write truly amazing software in short period of time and use one line of perl to destroy somebody's world (try the next perl peace of code if you feel lucky) .

# /usr/bin/env perl
# Danger !!! This script can kill your root file system

$? ? s:;s:s;;$?: : s;;=]=>%-{<-|}<&|`{; ;
y; -/:-@[-`{-};`-{/" -; ;

Now if you ask your fellow "hacker" to design production system there is high probability that you will get your system soon enough written in ASSEMBLY :). Or you will get it in your favorite c++ without classes, inheritance, templates, stl and all this fancy stuff real hackers never use. And god forbid no unit testing or comments in code because it is written in plain c++ or c or whatever... And you should know how to read code! And it works! Unless there is bug which you can fix in 1 sec :)

If you ask your enlightened  friend from the "Software craftsmanship" group to find out why your mouse stops working whenever you send UDP packet to port 666. There is big chance that you will find him after 10 hours of googling and sending mails to vendors and support teams all around the world, telling you that you mouse is stupid and there is no real service on port 666 and that there is no problem with port 667 so who cares ...

So what should you do ? Whom should you join ? As with everything in the world there is no black and white only. In my opinion a good programmer should have a balance of the two types of skills. Don't compromise on the quality of your code and don't afraid of low level stuff. Create quick prototypes when you need but remember that later real people will have to read and maintain your code. And most important remember that it is better to be healthy and rich then poor and sick (or just poor or just sick).


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