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Jocelyn Paine

Dr. Dobb's Bloggers

Google and the Priests

May 31, 2009

I am learning a certain integrated development environment, because a customer wants me to. This IDE is remarkable: it has taken me hours not to accomplish something I could do in seconds from the command line. That is, run a program. You can create or copy or import directories; and associate these in varied ways with module look-up paths; and create files; and associate these with look-up paths; and set run options on each module; and if those were the only things you could do, and there were only five ways to do each, that would still be 3124 ways of going wrong. And with no mental model of the IDE's workings, what do you do when it sneers "Cannot find module entry point" for the 24th time in two hours? You ask the Web; and the Web has grown a pimple on its side. 50% of pages in it are developer-forum posts: "I had that too. Wasted hours. No idea what it means. Tried Google?" Of the remaining pages, 49% are well-intentioned bad advice. Which is why Tony Hoare's Software Design: a Parable is still spot-on. Though nowadays, we pray to Google as well as priests.

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