2006 March 03 23:58

Hmm. Thinking about this program (the wiki) and its genesis (thanks again, Michael Pruemm for kicking my @ss and getting me to write this thing and get it online, in whatever shape!), and about other things in my life – esp other tools I’d like to write – that I have a very high quality bar that gets in my way.

I want things to be perfect when they first see the light of day, rather than allowing them to start out clumsy. or ugly, or whatever, and move towards (never reaching) perfection as times goes on.

It’s interesting to see the ways in which this gets in my way. Even choosing the title of this page. Right after starting to edit it I thought: “Maybe I should call this page when good enough isn’t good enough instead?”

This reminds me of Richard Gabriel’s Worse is Better. Edsger Dijkstra made some interesting remarks about software in an interview on Dutch TV. (You should really go and see the video first, then we can discuss it here a bit). --Michael Pruemm

I watched the interview, then read a ton of the stuff in the EWD archive. I agree with almost everything Dijkstra said, but that’s not encouraging: thirty years ago he complained about the state of things, and since then nothing has changed!

That’s a general feeling I have when I read papers from that area, not only Dijkstra’s. Not too long ago I read Wirth’s paper about Program Development by Stepwise Refinement and it contains good advice that still isn’t common knowledge today. The paper is from 1971!