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7 bad programming ideas that work

Peter Wayner | Aug. 16, 2016
Cheaper, easier, faster, safer -- sometimes bad habits are better than good enough

One of the new Java programmers even told me, in frustration, something like, “It’s not fair to compare us to the old green-screen app. We’re doing so much more.” By "more," he meant using fancy fonts, tasteful colors, and forms that fit into resizable windows. The same data was still moving from fingers to database, but the people answering the phones remembered how much faster it was to work with the garish green screens with their fixed-width fonts.

The latest software technology is not always an improvement. There’s a reason why hardware engineers chuckle that programmers exist to create the bazillion lines of new code to make sure the new hardware runs as slowly as the old. Otherwise there wouldn’t be a need for new hardware.

Some of the earnest programmers like to talk with serious tones about issues like “technical debt” and “continual refactoring.” They speak knowledgeably about the importance of investing in the refreshing of code. But at times all of the dreams of wiping the slate clean and rewriting everything turns into a nightmare.

It’s a tough call. If the old code is buggy or failing, rewriting is the only choice. But sometimes rebuilding an app simply to keep it current can be a big mistake. Sometimes you go backward and end up with a trendy architecture written in the latest language but filled with new, trendy bugs to go with it.

 

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