How can engineers not understand source-code control? (was: The Industry choice)

Cameron Laird claird at
Mon Jan 3 11:08:03 EST 2005

In article <41d8417e$0$14596$ed2619ec at>,
Mark Carter  <mcturra2000 at> wrote:
>Don't start me! Dammit, too late ...
>I've noticed that they have an overwhelming obsession with GUIs, too. 
>They design wizards for everything. Damn pretty they are, too. Albeit a 
>bit flakey. They seem to conflate pretty interfaces with good interfaces 
>and good software.
>I used to joke that since our software wasn't particularly magical, it 
>didn't need wizards. But I think I just ended up sounding bitter.
>We once had a bit of software that we thought we'd like to turn into a 
>generic application. The focus on improvements was, predictably enough, 
>that we should design a GUI that could do anything a client would likely 
>to want to do. It was my opinion, though, having seen the very 
>"special-cases" nature required in the original software, that it was 
>almost impossible to predict exactly how a customer might want the 
>product tailored. I suggested that what they really needed was a library 
>(Python would have been good for this, Lisp might have been even better) 
>that could be extended as required. GUIs second, functionality first. 
>But hey, what would I know. Fortunately, the whole thing's been put on 
>the back burner.
>And trying to get through to them why source control makes sense, that 
>when more than one person works on a project, some form of coordination 
>is required, that copying and pasting code is evil, and that Excel 
>probably isn't the hammer for every nail.
>Honestly, I thought (real) engineers were supposed to be clever.

Let's provisionally assume ignorance rather than unintelligence,
if only on the grounds of parsimony.  Sympathetic colleagues are
available, by the way, at <URL: >.
While the Wiki remains *very* quiet, at this point, it's still
quite young.

The subject you raise is precisely at the middle of part of my
excitement about Python's prospects.  I'll sketch the pertinent
propositions:  GUIs are the wrong model; true flexibility involves
a domain-specific, well-designed "little language".  "Scripting
languages" were originally "configuration languages"; return to
those roots is only healthy.  Scientific and engineering software
particularly has been in thrall to the GUI, and deserves rejuve-
nation with "scripting".  Key to the dynamic of dynamic languages
is that they make it cheaper to re-write than to re-use, in some
carefully limited sense.

I've seen the infatuation for Excel (and so on) for years, but
never found it at all tempting myself.  I mostly just ignore the
issue--no, actually, I guess I give them Excel, but show at the
same time that they really want the alternative views that I
also provide.

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