[FoRK] Open Source Databases

Contempt for Meatheads jbone at place.org
Tue Jun 15 12:34:28 PDT 2004

RT says:

> There's a third possibility. In many cases, and I
> would be surprised if this didn't include Oracle,
> a lot of that complexity is created by business
> decisions, rather than engineering ones.

While there's some validity to this statement, too, the idea that the 
process of building software involves distinct engineering and business 
decisions is ultimately bogus.  There's no clear distinction;  
engineering decisions *must* be informed by business reality --- but by 
the same token, "business" heads are not the only and final arbiters of 
what's best for either users or the business.  Too often engineering 
lets itself fall into the trap of not representing the user's interests 
(e.g., failing to quash ambiguity and complexity in the spec because of 
lack of clarity in the minds of the end-users or, worse, "business" 
intermediaries like product managers) or, indeed, their own (we often 
end up making concessions that undermine the maintainability or 
extensibility / evolvability of the software, both of which have costs 
to the business.  We shouldn't let this happen.  The responsibility is 
ours to defend "the right thing" and to communicate the costs of not 
doing so to the *other* decision-makers;  any failure is at least 
partially ours.)

The fine line is in finding the balance between "must ship" and "the 
right thing."  It's hard to find.  But the best way to find it and 
maintain it, IMHO, is by adamant insistence on clarity, simplicity, and 
maximum parsimony in problem statement, design, and implementation.

The best line of code is the line that doesn't need to be written.


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