I signed two software manifestos yesterday.

photo credit: SpecialKRB (Flickr)

The Agile Manifesto is a classic. It changed the industry. Not everything about “agile” is automatically wonderful (particularly when it becomes an excuse for lazy planning), but the foundational principles are so, so true! Go. Read. Sign.

The Manifesto for Software Craftsmanship seems to deliberately emulate its predecessor’s simple and pragmatic style. I also believe deeply in its principles. I think it needs a bit more defense, however.

Steve Yegge claims that software conservatives love their code, and software liberals view code as a necessary evil. (LONG post; this comment is near the end. And you may need to read his previous post for context, if you’re not familiar with his political metaphor.)

I think he’s gone too far. I’m pretty software liberal. And I get the kernel of truth in the “necessary evil” idea. So much of what we write will be chucked or rewritten; it’s unhealthy to imagine that every project is an opportunity for a magnum opus, or to expect to be able to achieve perfection.

But I don’t think that means we should devalue the craft. Even in the imperfect, muddled, transitory universe of software, it’s possible to make savvy and artistic choices–or to do the opposite. When we care about craft, we find work more satisfying, and we make our corner of the universe a more hospitable place for our neighbors, which has all kinds of benefits.

Besides, love of craft is my major reason for blogging, so it must be a good thing, right? :-)

Action Item

Go read the manifestos. If you’re inclined, poke around for the links that let you sign.

2 thoughts on “Manifestos

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