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Software development topics I've changed my mind on after 6 years in the industry

Published: 2021-01-23

Things I've changed my mind on:

Things I now believe, which past me would've squabbled with:

  • Typed languages are better when you're working on a team of people with various experience levels
  • Standups are actually useful for keeping an eye on the newbies.
  • Sprint retrospectives have their place so long as they're for actual course correction (i.e. "holy shit, that went poorly!") and not some god awful  'agile' / 'scum master' driven waste of everyone's time
  • Software architecture probably matters more than anything else. A shitty implementation of a good abstraction causes no net harm to the code base. A bad abstraction or missing layer causes everything to rot.  
  • Java isn't that terrible of a language.
  • Clever code isn't usually good code. Clarity trumps all other concerns.
  • Bad code can be written in any paradigm
  • So called "best practices" are contextual and not broadly applicable. Blindly following them makes you an idiot
  • Designing scalable systems when you don't need to makes you a bad engineer.
  • Static analysis is useful
  • DRY is about avoiding a specific problem, not an end goal unto itself.
  • In general, RDBMS > NoSql
  • Functional programming is another tool, not a panacea.

Opinions I've picked up along the way

  • YAGNI, SOLID, DRY. In that order.
  • Pencil and paper are the best programming tools and vastly under used
  • Trading purity in exchange for practicality is usually a good call
  • Adding more technology is rarely a good call
  • Talking directly to the customer always reveals more about the problem, in less time, and with higher accuracy
  • The word "scalable" has a mystical and stupefying power over the mind of the software engineer. Its mere utterance can whip them into a depraved frenzy. Grim actions have been justified using this word
  • Despite being called "engineers," most decision are pure cargo-cult with no backing analysis, data, or numbers
  • 90% – maybe 93% – of project managers, could probably disappear tomorrow to either no effect or a net gain in efficiency.
  • After performing over 100 interviews: interviewing is thoroughly broken. I also have no idea how to actually make it better.

Old opinions unchanged:

  • People who stress over code style, linting rules, or other minutia are insane weirdos
  • Code coverage has absolutely nothing to do with code quality
  • Monoliths are pretty good in most circumstances
  • TDD purists are just the worst. Their frail little minds can't process the existence of different workflows.

  We'll see which of these have flipped or changed at year 10.