Friday, December 19, 2008

Hardware is Cheap, Programmers are Expensive

Blog post by Jeff Atwood of Coding Horror

Given the rapid advance of Moore's Law, when does it make sense to throw hardware at a programming problem? As a general rule, I'd say almost always.

Incidentally, this is also why failing to outfit your (relatively) highly paid programmers with decent equipment as per the Programmer's Bill of Rights is such a colossal mistake. If a one-time investment of $4,000 on each programmer makes them merely 5% more productive, you'll break even after the first year. Every year after that you've made a profit. Also, having programmers who believe that their employers actually give a damn about them is probably a good business strategy for companies that actually want to be around five or ten years from now.


Programmers have a tendency to get lost in the details of optimizing for the sake of optimization... If you're not extremely careful, you could end up spending a lot of very expensive development time with very little to show for it. Or, worse, you'll find yourself facing a slew of new, even more subtle bugs in your codebase.

Rules of Optimization:
Rule 1: Don't do it.
Rule 2 (for experts only): Don't do it yet.
- M.A. Jackson

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