Resisting The Feature Creature


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Presentation at the Geekmeet in Craiova, Romania talking about the adoption of APIs and libraries as a way to prevent unmaintainable products.

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Resisting The Feature Creature

  1. Resisting the feature creature Christian Heilmann Geek Meet, Romania, November 2008
  2. I use VI! We are developers.
  3. And as developers we have one thing that always keeps us from making our lives a *lot* easier.
  4. The feature creature Creature:
  5. The feature creature is that little advisor we have in our head...
  6. ...who gives us bad ideas.
  7. Like, what?
  8. “You can do that in 5 lines of code – after all you don’t need to test before you apply nowadays”
  9. “Documentation is for pussies, real men learn from source code”
  10. “JavaScript sucks, just write a wrapper that generates JavaScript from Ruby and translates via Python”
  11. “Go ahead and add that hack. It only has to work in IE6 anyways.”
  12. “Comments in your own language make a lot of sense. If you use English, who’d know where code ends and the comment starts?”
  13. “Yeah, Yahoo and Google have a solution for this, but you are better and can create a smaller one!”
  14. All of this stuff is very dangerous.
  15. Right now, the market is going downhill...
  16. ...which means that the quality of your work is measured by how fast and efficient you are.
  17. I’ve given a talk about this some weeks ago in Paris.
  19. Where I showed people how to save time and money by using things that are available for free.
  20. Design Patterns, Design Pattern Stencils CSS frameworks: YUI grids, YAML, 960, Blueprint Exceptional Performance Tips, YSlow, Hammerhead Fix your picture sizes with Page widgets (things not in HTML): YUI, jQuery UI Build an own search engine with Yahoo BOSS YouTube API Amazon S3 for storage Batch video conversion with Amazon S3 and EC2 Captioning on a shoestring with CastingWords Mechanical Turk
  21. Basically this could be the same talk...
  22. ...but this is more about the underlying issue...
  23. ...of us as developers not trusting other people’s solutions.
  24. We all work on solving the same problems.
  25. And some of us solve problems for large, distributed teams.
  26. In large corporations.
  27. Or even for a massive audience.
  28. And yet as developers we tend not to trust solutions of those companies.
  29. Building web applications and web sites is much more than coding a solution.
  30. It means working in a constantly changing environment.
  31. Constantly under attack by hackers and spammers.
  32. Collaboratively fixing these problems and releasing patches and new versions are a solution for that problem.
  33. Do you have the time and dedication to do the same for all of your hand-rolled solutions?
  34. I have written a massive amount of bad code in my life.
  35. I also find myself doing work that in retrospect doesn’t make much sense or is available as a native method.
  36. The point is that as a developer I act first and then start reading the instructions.
  37. This, I found, holds me back.
  38. SDKs and documentation are built for a reason.
  39. They make the access to systems and building software on top of them much easier.
  40. Case in point.
  41. Say you want to help your clients find good keywords to promote their product online.
  42. You can do some research, surf all the competitors’ sites and note down the descriptions, keywords and titles.
  43. You can be a man and use CURL to write a script to do that.
  44. Or you can keep your eyes open and check if there is an API for that.
  46. format=xml&appid=...
  47. format=xml&view=keyterms&appid=...
  48. All you need to do is getting the top 20, analyzing the keyword frequency and create a top 20.
  49. boss_keywords.html
  50. Then you take YUI CSS grids, and spend 30 minutes playing with colours and fonts.
  51. And you have a product:
  52. So in essence, what I am saying is...
  53. There is a *lot* of *awesome* *free* and *good* stuff out on the web.
  54. Spend some time reading up on it and using it.
  55. People like me spend a lot of time convincing people in big companies that giving free access to our systems is a great thing...
  56. help developers and small companies become a success by not having to repeat the same mistakes we did.
  57. Our main argument for all these free goodies is that gifted people like you will create things faster and better.
  58. Because you are not hindered by a big corporate machine and red tape.
  59. So help us show the system that innovation works outside if the inside helps the community.
  60. THANKS! Creature: Christian Heilmann |