Dreaming in Code: Two Dozen Programmers, Three Years, 4,732 Bugs, and One Quest for Transcendent Software

Dreaming in Code: Two Dozen Programmers, Three Years, 4,732 Bugs, and One Quest for Transcendent Software

Scott Rosenberg

Language: English

Pages: 416

ISBN: 1400082471

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Our civilization runs on software. Yet the art of creating it continues to be a dark mystery, even to the experts. To find out why it’s so hard to bend computers to our will, Scott Rosenberg spent three years following a team of maverick software developers—led by Lotus 1-2-3 creator Mitch Kapor—designing a novel personal information manager meant to challenge market leader Microsoft Outlook. Their story takes us through a maze of abrupt
dead ends and exhilarating breakthroughs as they wrestle not only with the abstraction of code, but with the unpredictability of human behavior— especially their own.

















unsatisfying stabs at an answer. Some in the crowd seemed affronted, as if the very question were impertinent. Finally, one attendee stood up and started reciting the verbiage from an IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) standards document, whose boilerplate bureaucratic language only underscored the speaker’s point: that a room filled with professionals whose work depended PROTOTYPES AND PYTHON |||63 on precise specification could neither compose nor agree upon a simple,

skill problem. It is simply a problem too hard to be solved, one rooted in software diversity.” In the 1980s, a computer scientist named Brad Cox became obsessed with the problem of constructing programs out of reusable parts. He had designed an extension of the C programming language, called Objective-C, intended to streamline the production of reusable software objects. But when it didn’t catch on, he began to view the issue from an economic rather than a technical perspective. In 1990, Cox

Burgess, one of the project’s younger programmers, speaks up. “There’s a compounding of uncertainty: Your estimates are based on someone else’s estimates.” Toy begins reviewing Anderson’s bugs. “The famous flicker-free window resizing problem. What’s up with that?” Officially, this was bug number 44 in Bugzilla, originally entered on January 19, 2003, and labeled “Flicker Free window display when resizing windows.” I had first heard of the flicker-free window resizing problem at a meeting in February

The search for OSAF’s software development manager did not go quickly. Although such a job carries authority, it is not one that many programmers aspire to fill. Some take their cue from the world of the Dilbert comic strip—with its barbs aimed at the archetypal, moronic “pointy-haired boss,” or PHB, as acronym-loving programmers came to refer to the figure—and actively resist the whole concept, viewing anyone who takes the title of manager as an obstacle. (One programmer posting on a coders’ site

is, considering each bit of stuff you have dumped into your system and deciding what to do with it next. If you can do what needs to be done in two minutes or less, Allen 166 |||DREAMING IN CODE advises, just do it. Otherwise, decide if it’s something to file, discard, defer, or classify as part of a particular project with a next action. With Kapor’s blessing and encouragement, Mimi Yin began to consider how Chandler might function as a GTD-style system for stuff processing. Kapor was clear

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