Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The loss of magic

I recently watched (on YouTube) Linus Torvald's Google Talk on Git, the version control system he developed. If you are any kind of programmer, it is well worth watching. Doing some research on Git (I use Subversion, and so fall into the category of people Linus reccomends be committed to a mental asylum.) I found the following statistic very impressive.

(From Wikipedia)
"The development of Git began on April 3, 2005. The project was announced on April 6, and became self-hosting as of April 7. The first merge of multiple branches was done on April 18.Torvalds achieved his performance goals; on April 29, the nascent Git was benchmarked recording patches to the Linux kernel tree at the rate of 6.7 per second. On June 16, the kernel 2.6.12 release was managed by Git."

That is *fast* development of a very complicated piece of software and serves to remind me how much of a gap there is between the best programmers and the rest of us.

I've been (re)reading "Masters of Doom" (a very nice read, whether you are a programmer or not - the book seems to be out of print and if you can't get a used copy a search of the internetz will yield a scanned pdf) and the part I find fascinating is how John Carmack grows and develops as a programmer. Working full time on enterprisey code, especially in India, serves to obscure the magic (and magicians) of programming. Which is a little odd given that most good programmers get into programming for the magic, and then end up building fugly enterprise systems for the rest of their lives!

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