10 July 2008

tools are dangerous when they support ceremony

i had a conversation with a smart guy at work today who has been reading about information theory and how repetition supports the transfer of meaning. he applied this concept to a discussion about ruby, claiming that ruby was too terse to be an effective way to write systems, though accepting the fact that rails has some good features (he hasn't seen that much of it and neither have i). he likes java in eclipse because code completion and navigation make it easy to discover how the system works.

the argument definitely makes sense to some degree; i've made it myself in the past. but i think it's taking the wrong message away from the exercise: it is a smell that we need to discover the meaning in the first place through our tools. all that navigation is a necessary evil for digging our way through the cruft that builds up in a system written in java that uses IoC. there is so much ceremony that my eyes cannot find the meaningful pieces easily.

i'd rather use google to understand features of the framework or language rather than have to type them out repeatedly just to make sure i remember.

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