“It Works”

This blog post, “The Worst Thing You Can Say About Software Is That It Works,” written by one Kenny Tilton, is pretty hilarious. This is the most beautiful thing I’ve read in a while:

if a pile of code does not work it is not software, we’ll talk about its merit when it works, OK? Therefore to say software works is to say nothing. Therefore anything substantive one can say about software is better than to say it works.

Reading this triggered flashbacks and PTSD. I’d mentioned to a manager recently that I wanted some time to do some badly needed refactoring. My explanation of why was met with a pause, then, “Let me get this straight. You want time to take something that already works, reorganize it, possibly break things, and we wouldn’t have anything new to even show for it?”

That last part was wrong–the value added comes from maintainability and extensibility, but I couldn’t get him to really grasp those ideas. He’s not a technology person. For all he knew, maybe this was an elaborate ruse on my part to be left undisturbed while I surfed porn at my desk for a few weeks.

I work in a very small shop with all non-technology people, so this sort of thing happens a lot. It’s frustrating. It’s sort of nice to know I’m not alone in encountering this mindset. But man… if even the fellow programmer in Kenny’s story doesn’t get it, I’m not sure there’s much hope for the rest of the world.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *