[prog] State of software engineering profession

Akkana Peck akkana at shallowsky.com
Tue Apr 15 19:44:18 EST 2003

Mary writes:
> On Tue, Apr 15, 2003, Jimen Ching wrote:
> > I don't think so.  At least not in the free/open source software
> > world.  "Show us the code" usually means send in a patch.
> I feel that a project is often really saying "show a willingness to do
> the work" when they say "show us the code". All too often, feature
> requests are not accompanied by this willingness to do the work. 


If you track any of the large, successful open source projects for
a while, I think you'll see that people are very open to design
discussions -- from people who are active contributors, know the
codebase and have demonstrated a committment to the project.
In other words, from people who can and will back up that design
with real code when the time comes.  Many of the developer lists
I'm on are currently having design discussions, for parts of the
project which have no code yet written.  

On the other hand, if you're a stranger just getting involved with
a project, don't expect your design proposals to be taken terribly
seriously.  Talk is cheap in OSS projects, and it's easy to criticise
a design, but it's a lot harder to understand the code well enough to
know how to make a better design which can actually be implemented
by the available developers without rewriting everything.
This might give an impression, to an outsider coming in fresh
on a project, that the developers aren't interested in design.

Sometimes a planned design doesn't get implemented properly due to lack
of time, alas, depending on what time committments the developers are
able to make.  Of course, that happens in companies too: a design gets
written, but then several developers quit and aren't replaced and a
hacky solution has to be written just to get something out the door.

[more stuff from Mary that I agree with 100% snipped]


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