Bioperl: Joining up...

Vicki Brown
Tue, 26 Jan 1999 15:37:51 -0800

At 19:15 +0000 1/25/99, Ewan Birney wrote:
> We don't mind 'bad' code -
> Some people are very embarrassed about showing their code to others for
> fear of being told that there is a better way of doing it. It is fine
> to have kludges and make hacks - at least if they work - and bioperl has
> a number of wince-making or obtuse bits of code. Eventually someone takes
> them out and (hopefully) fixes it. Nearly all of us have made some real
> howlers in our time (I know I have) so we've all been there.

I would change one little word... :-)  How about:

   We don't mind 'imperfect' code -

Or better yet:

   We don't require 'perfect' code -

In my world (15 years a programmer, several of them spent employed as 
a "Quality Lead" for two software development groups... ) there is a 
difference (subtle, perhaps, but nonetheless important)  between 
"bad" code and "less than perfect" code.

Bad code doesn't work. Bad code has bugs. Bad code is _not_ valuable 
for helping others to "figure out the best way to write a module for 
myself". Bad code causes more problems, ultimately, than it solves, 
and wastes both your time and mine.

I'm willing to let other people find bugs in my code; I'm not 
perfect. But before I send it to you, I'm going to try to make sure 
that it's something I'm willing to allow to represent _me_.

While I agree that the Bioperl project should not be placing 
restrictions on formatting style or naming conventions or insisting 
that all code run under "use strict" or "perl -w" (although a myriad 
of potential ailments may be relieved by judicious use of these 
during development!); nevertheless, it's not a bad thing to ask 
people to look their code over before submitting it.  Test it, even 
:-)  Supply a little bit of documentation. Take a little care.

The statement "We don't mind bad code" does not fit well with the statements
    "It is fine to have kludges and make hacks - at least if they work"
    "The best way to do that is submit code as-is that WORKS asap--"

Bad code... doesn't really work.  It may appear to work, but 
appearances can be deceiving.

You wouldn't say "We don't mind bad science" would you?  Accept 
results from someone known to take a less-than-careful approach to 
calibrating their equipment or washing their glassware?

A proper aseptic technique is useful in programming too...  keeps the 
unwanted bugs down... ;-)

- Vicki
 //=\   Vicki Brown
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