Confessions of an Abstraction Hater

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2022-01-13 14:30:10

I've written about the cost of abstraction before. Once you are in the IT industry for couple of decades and once you've read couple of millions lines on legacy code you become healthily suspicious of any kind of abstraction. Not that we can do without abstraction. We need it to be able to write code at all. However, each time you encounter an abstraction in the code that could have been avoided you get a little bit sadder. And some codebases are sadder than Romeo and Juliet and King Lear combined.

Remember reading an unfamiliar codebase the last time? Remember how you've thought that the authors were a bunch of incompetent idiots?

People may argue that this is because legacy stuff is necessarily convoluted, but hey, at that point you were just skimming through the codebase and you weren't understanding it deep enough to tell your typical enterprise legacy monstrosity from a work of an architectural genius. The reason you were annoyed was because you were overwhelmed by the sheer amount of unfamiliar abstraction. (To prove that, consider what was your opinion of the codebase was few months later, after getting familiar with it. It looked much better, no?)

Keep that feeling in mind. Think of it when writing new code. How will a person who doesn't know first thing about this codebase feel when reading it?

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