Quality happens only when someone is responsible for it

…to anyone who has ever wondered if using m4 macros to configure autoconf to write a shell script to look for 26 Fortran compilers in order to build a Web browser was a bit of a detour, Brooks’ book offers well-reasoned hope that there can be a better way.

~ Poul-Henning Kamp, “A Generation Lost in the Bazaar“, CACM vol 55.10

The article is a scathing condemnation of, well, an entire generation of programmers. There is merit to Kamp’s criticism, but he’s thrown the baby out with the bath water.

The explosive growth “of IT”, (as Kamp calls it,) in the last 15 years was made possible by the behavior and activities he’s condemning. The pendulum is, in my opinion, now swinging in the direction of “craftsmanship” and “professionalism”, and the chaos is settling out. I’ve encountered several projects where a small group of people, operating ala Raymond’s “bazaar” have undertaken replacing foundations of things for the right reasons.

We still build “cathedrals”. The definition of “cathedral” has simply been improved.

You might want to read…

Brooks, F. The Design of Design. Addison-Wesley Professional, 2010

Raymond, E. The Cathedral and the Bazaar. O’Reilly Media, Sebastapol, CA, 1999