fredag 15. januar 2010

Please stop the madness

Looking at Microsoft’s approach to frameworks and libraries lately gives me the creeps. In frameworks like entity framework, workflow foundation and such Microsoft heavily relies on graphical tools and generated code. My three main objections to this way of developing are 1. It complicates the way of working 2. It complicates maintenance 3. It gives of the wrong signals to developers.

The whys:

1. It complicates the way of working
As developers what is our main skill? Writing code right? And of course with experience we have learned how to read code and through reading we learn how to write cleaner more readable code. Now suddenly we have to relate to the code we write, the designer UI and the code generated by the designer. In addition to that the code generated by the designer are often a messy blob of complex code. By using these tools we have complicated what should have been clean readable code.
Another thing is writing tests for code using generated code. This usually ends up being a nightmare.

2. It complicates maintenance
What happens when requirements change? Well you have to have the designer regenerate the code don't you? Something that you could have done through refactoring tools you now have to do through the provided UI. Also you risk ending up in a scenario when the framework comes in a new and fresh version where upgrade issues corrupts the generated code. Ok that one was a bit unfair but I'll still consider it an issue.

3. It gives of the wrong signals to developers
This is probably my biggest issue with the concept. The issues solved by these designers the way I see it is: hiding a complex framework or making a non developer friendly framework. First off, hiding a complex framework is treating the symptoms of bad design. I would much rather see them putting their effort into writing a high quality useable API for it. If the reason is that writing code for it is too much to ask from the developer that's just sad. As stated earlier one of the greatest skills a developer has is writing code. As for 'non developers' we're talking about development frameworks not applications like the office suite which rightfully contains UI designers and code generator tools.

I just needed to get this out of my system :p I guess my plead to Microsoft is please stop the madness and get back to writing good clean framework API's that developers can write high quality applications with. The .NET core proves that you know how to.

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