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Ryan DL originally shared:
 
I hate almost all software. It's unnecessary and complicated at almost every layer. At best I can congratulate someone for quickly and simply solving a problem on top of the shit that they are given. The only software that I like is one that I can easily understand and solves my problems. The amount of complexity I'm willing to tolerate is proportional to the size of the problem being solved.

In the past year I think I have finally come to understand the ideals of Unix: file descriptors and processes orchestrated with C. It's a beautiful idea. This is not however what we interact with. The complexity was not contained. Instead I deal with DBus and /usr/lib and Boost and ioctls and SMF and signals and volatile variables and prototypal inheritance and _C99_FEATURES_ and dpkg and autoconf.

Those of us who build on top of these systems are adding to the complexity. Not only do you have to understand $LD_LIBRARY_PATH to make your system work but now you have to understand $NODE_PATH too - there's my little addition to the complexity you must now know! The users - the one who just want to see a webpage - don't care. They don't care how we organize /usr, they don't care about zombie processes, they don't care about bash tab completion, they don't care if zlib is dynamically linked or statically linked to Node. There will come a point where the accumulated complexity of our existing systems is greater than the complexity of creating a new one. When that happens all of this shit will be trashed. We can flush boost and glib and autoconf down the toilet and never think of them again.

Those of you who still find it enjoyable to learn the details of, say, a programming language - being able to happily recite off if NaN equals or does not equal null - you just don't yet understand how utterly fucked the whole thing is. If you think it would be cute to align all of the equals signs in your code, if you spend time configuring your window manager or editor, if put unicode check marks in your test runner, if you add unnecessary hierarchies in your code directories, if you are doing anything beyond just solving the problem - you don't understand how fucked the whole thing is. No one gives a fuck about the glib object model.

The only thing that matters in software is the experience of the user.
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Joseph Gentle's profile photoTom Birch's profile photoBrock Whitten's profile photo
5 comments
 
Nice rant from someone who thinks server-side javascript is a good idea :D
 
Well, Ryan Dahl is the guy who wrote nodejs, so I hope so :p
 
I know, that's my point, node.js is just the type of excessive additional layers of software that he's complaining about. Writing good software that does its job, whilst avoiding over-engineering, is really hard. The plethora of languages/frameworks that are a poorly designed solution in search of a problem just make this harder. Also, web services? No thanks. I'll tell you about Apple's successful products though
 
Tom, I would be curious to hear your thoughts on how you would engineer a non-blocking distributed system? What tools would you use that keep the complexity tamed? Or is it that you think non-blocking I/O is silly?
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