Data-driven testing

Anton Vredegoor anton at vredegoor.doge.nl
Fri Apr 25 13:43:10 CEST 2003


Peter Hansen <peter at engcorp.com> wrote:

<throwaway scripts>

>I can't see any point in continuing the discussion, can you?

This discussion about whether throwaway scripts tend to get thrown
away or not is too heavily based on the wrong Dutch quotes. A more
fitting quote would be "ieder voordeel heb zijn nadeel" from a famous
Dutch soccer player (and later soccer trainer in Italy). It means as
much as "every advantage has its disadvantage".

In modern Dutch society this quote and the reverse standard form of it
are several times more popular than all of Dijkstras quotes taken
together. Since the man also went to Italy later in his career there's
probably also an Italian version of this quote and of several other of
his remarks.

Now to get to the point, I would like to suggest that the advantage of
writing throwaway scripts is that there's no Dijkstra or employer
looking over ones shoulder saying; "Are you serious? Is this the way
you are spending my time and money?".

On the other hand, if a programmer has become any good in the art
there's no way this could have been accomplished without having been
playing with code a lot. To a certain extent playing *is* learning.

The problem that comes up is that often, while playing, pieces of code
are produced that could become important later. After all this is the
source of almost all coding creativity isn't it?

So now we have a respectable programmer with all kinds of crazy code
snippets, some of which could become of considerable value to himself,
to the employer, and to other coders. However, there's no way to share
them without losing credibility among the other "professional" coders.
After all, if making money is one of the main objectives, it becomes
contraproductive to share ones less successful attempts[1].

This is where pair coding, sprints, inofficial meetings, answers to
usenet postings of beginners, trivial conversations about quotes etc.
come in handy. It enables the more experienced programmers to share
their knowledge without being made responsible for the crazy stuff.
The downside  of this -yes we're still following Johan Kruif's trail-
is that there's sometimes a lot of boasting necessary to compensate
for engaging in such activities.

It would be better to forget about money -and Dijkstra- all together
in open source communities and just think in terms of the time that
one is willing to contribute to a project.

If a lot of that time is spent playing with the code, the community as
a whole would profit more than from having payed coders for a project.
(Unless someone is willing to hire me for a project of course, I'm
cheap :-) 

So, concluding, write as much throwaway scripts as you can, just don't
throw them away :-)  

Someone else, maybe even yourself will "profit" from them later.

Anton

[1] This problem is older than coding, because it was the reason for
the creation of a scientific community. I consider it a big social
problem that nowadays companies have sufficient amounts of money to
destroy this community by buying away the best scientists. 

There's new hope in using the internet as a medium for sharing
knowledge. I can't see any scientist or professional programmer
retaining the status associated with formerly held positions when
using the new medium however, since such positions are generally
acquired by restricting access for most people, while the internet has
a tendency to work around such barriers. While this is generally a
good thing, the transformation of the old values and the accompanying
social unrest could cause problems.







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