Sat, 2 Mar 2002 10:42:01 -0500 (Eastern Standard Time)
> > 1) Can good code be art? Am I a software artist? How to display this art?
A thing about art code is that nobody knows about it except the few who
get close enough to understand it, which generally means the creator and a
few lead maintainers. So there's a conversation over time, where comments
and designs left by each generation of owner are only understood by the
next generation. I have done a few designs that I was really truly proud
of, and I have inherited a couple designs that just knocked me flat.
One unsung hero whose code I got to know really well was a guy named Barry
Zane at Applix, a niche apps maker (e.g. of real-time financial data
analysis tools) where I worked in the first half of the 90s. Barry's job
was to build the first generation of every product the company made, so
that lesser mortals would always have a correctly conceived engine to
build features on. At one point he did this in real time for a product I
was due to take over. I watched over his shoulder for a day while he
conceived and built at a ridiculous pace, and then I spent the next few
months understanding what he'd done during that one day.