Ponderings on Odoriferous Syntactical Constructifications

(AKA: “Thoughts on code smells” and how “high brow” they have become)

We have a habit of talking about “code smells” to indicate patterns and practices that our experience has shown can be problematic. Many of these “smells” are backed by a lot of data and really are legitimate problems to avoid. These are constructs and tools that often have few legitimate uses. But many so called “smells” really aren’t significantly bad. Let’s dive into some of the nuance here and talk a bit about why our word choice matters.

Simple, Easy, Risk and Change

I’ve been thinking a lot about change lately. Things finally resonated to me after listening to Uncle Bob Martin on No Capes. He made an amazingly interesting point about change and different methods for minimizing the risk over time of change.

I want to share some of what I’ve been thinking about along those lines. What follows is a collection of some of my evolving thoughts relating to change and complexity. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Tries and Lexers

Lately I have been playing around with a few experimental projects. The current one started when I tried to make a templating engine. Not just an ordinary one, but one that understood the context of a variable so it could encode/escape it properly. Imagine being able to put a variable in a JavaScript string in your template, and have the engine transparently encode it correctly for you. Awesome, right? Well, while doing it, I went down a rabbit hole. And it led to something far more awesome.

Thoughts On The Design Of APIs

Developers as a whole suck at API design. We don’t suck at making APIs. We don’t suck at implementing them. We don’t suck at using them (well, some more than others). But we do suck at designing them. In fact, we suck so much that we’ve made entire disciplines around trying to design better ones (BDD, DDD, TDD, etc). There are lots of reasons for this, but there are a few that I really want to focus on.

On PHP Version Requirements

I learned something rather disturbing yesterday. CodeIgniter 3.0 will support PHP 5.2. To put that in context, there hasn’t been a supported or secure version of PHP 5.2 since January, 2011. That’s nearly 4 years. To me, that’s beyond irresponsible… It’s negligent… So I tweeted about it (not mentioning the project to give them the chance to realize what the problem was):

I received a bunch of replies. Many people thought I was talking about WordPress. I wasn’t, but the same thing does apply to the project. Most people agreed with me, saying that not targeting 5.4 or higher is bad. But some disagreed. Some disagreed strongly. So, I want to talk about that.

Stack Machines: Compilers

I have the honor today of writing a guest blog post on Igor Wiedler’s Blog about Compilers. If you don’t know @igorwhiletrue, he’s pretty much the craziest developer that I know. And crazy in that genious sort of way. He’s been doing a series of blog posts about Stack Machines and building complex runtimes from simple components. Well, today I authored a guest post on compiling code to run on said runtime. The compiler only took about 100 lines of code!!!

Check it out!

Alternatives To MVC

Last week, I wrote A Beginner’s Guide To MVC For The Web. In it, I described some of the problems with both the MVC pattern and the conceptual “MVC” that frameworks use. But what I didn’t do is describe better ways. I didn’t describe any of the alternatives. So let’s do that. Let’s talk about some of the alternatives to MVC…