Programmer Insecurity and Mea Culpa.

by jesse in ,


sorry.jpgBen Sussman-Collins put up an excellent blog post on programmer insecurity - this rings particularly loud with me for a few reasons. The first reason is that I used to be that guy - never checking anything in until I felt it was "perfect", then I swung to the other extreme - putting things in too quickly/aggressively.

It's a fine balance between the two, but one thing he says is especially pertinent in both open, and closed source worlds:

Be transparent. Share your work constantly. Solicit feedback. Appreciate critiques. Let other people point out your mistakes. You are not your code. Do not be afraid of day-to-day failures — learn from them. (As they say at Google, “don’t run from failure — fail often, fail quickly, and learn.”) Cherish your history, both the successes and mistakes. All of these behaviors are the way to get better at programming. If you don’t follow them, you’re cheating your own personal development.

I've grown to truly appreciate peer-review and discussion, I feel it makes all the parties involved that much better, and ultimately it improves the quality of the code. I've grown to miss peer-reviews when I don't have them - the chance to talk over the design of something and step through the code and debate various design points and possible improvements is very, very valuable.

Failure is not permanent with code: It is a transitional state which can be overcome.

That all being said: I must issue a mea culpa. Earlier this week I put together a patch for the multiprocessing package inclusion into python-core. Note that I've been using this package for some time, on multiple platforms - the tests have not failed me, and I felt that things were A-OK.

Once in though, the buildbots started doing something which reminds me of a particularly rowdy party at LinuxWorld way back - namely, all of them started churning away and promptly began puking on themselves. At least unlike me, they didn't misplace clothing or their hotel.

So, I broke the core.

I'm still chasing down the problems - we're suffering test lock-ups and a few compile errors on certain platforms (debian ppc for the loose). I feel awful because I did drop a code-bomb on Tuesday in my urgency to make the beta on wednesday. Dropping something that big right before a deadline is just poor form, and because of it - the betas didn't ship.

With that said: The work Ben Peterson, Adam Olsen, and many others have done to help (me/core) has been phenomenal and it simply reenforces why working in a community is so valuable for me. Now I just have to fix it. Anyone else want to help?