Improving Wetware

Because technology is never the issue

Software Craftsmanship Revisited

Posted by Pete McBreen 20 Jan 2011 at 09:14

I’m not a fan of the manifesto, but have been watching the recent threads stirred by Dan North saying Programming is not a craft.

TL;DR version Software Craftsmanship risks putting the software at the centre rather than the benefit the software is supposed to deliver, mostly because we are romantics with big egos. Programming is about automating work like crunching data, processing and presenting information, or controlling and automating machines.

Liz Keogh highlighted the key aspect of Software Craftsmanship that I consider crucial, that although you can aspire to being a craftsman

… Software Craftsman is a status you should be awarded by someone else.

The reason that the old trades crafts focused so much on creating a masterpiece, was so that a person could be recognized by their peers as having become a master of their craft. The proof was in what was created, not just by someone saying that they are a craftsman.

Uncle Bob seems to be trying to conflate Agile and Software Craftsmanship, but I still see the two things as distinct. He has also drawn parallels between his Clean Code idea and Software Craftsmanship

Why is there a software craftsmanship movement? What motivated it? What drives it now? One thing; and one thing only.

We are tired of writing crap.

That’s it. The fat lady sang. Good nite Gracy. Over and out.

Again, for me this is too simplistic a view. The idea of Clean Code as an approach is a good start, but Software Craftsmanship goes far beyond the idea of just Clean Code.

Software Craftsmanship requires a complete reappraisal of what it means to develop software. As opposed to stopping writing crap as Clean Code suggests, Software Craftsmanship asks us to start creating great applications for our users and to stand behind that code and support it so that users who come to depend on it can trust that it will be available for them to use.

Software Craftsmanship includes the idea of software longevity. Code that is maintainable and can be maintained for long periods so that the investment our users put in learning to use the application and the hours they spend getting the data into the application is not lost when a capricious decision is made to abandon the software.