Erratic Programmers

I am an erratic programmer. I flit around from project to project, never staying long, even if I end up contributing for a long time overall.

This is why I love GitHub, git, and Ruby.

When I have an idea for a project, I can’t be arsed to set up Subversion; git init is all I need to start keeping revisions. After I’ve done a bit of hacking, I need to be able to throw it up somewhere more safe than my computer while minutes away from sleep. For GitHub, that looks something like this:

  1. Go to GitHub.com.
  2. Click “New Repository”.
  3. Enter some half-arsed name and click “Create Repository”.
  4. Copy a line and paste it into my terminal.
  5. git push origin master
  6. sudo shutdown -hP now

I don’t have time to deal with Sourceforge’s approval process. I don’t need to worry about Google Code’s project cap. Seriously, 25 projects? I’m up to 59 on GitHub right now, with my 2nd year’s anniversary around the corner.

I expect my projects to be worked on for a few days, abandoned for a few months, worked on for a day, abandoned for a month, and so on. GitHub understands this. I see a potential improvement to someone’s project, and I just click “Fork”, “Edit” (oh, simple web-based editing, you are awesome), “Commit”, and send a Pull Request. Whenever the original author gets around to logging in and viewing his messages, he just has to go to his Fork Queue and pull in my change, easy-peasy. If either of these processes took more than 3 minutes, we wouldn’t do them.

Let me repeat that for you.

If either creating and submitting a patch for a project or merging in that patch takes more than 3 minutes, the erratic programmer won’t do it. Do not overestimate our attention span.

This is why easily-modifiable code is important. You hacked up a little script to do something cool, without extensive testing, a spec, or any of those other things that generally come with “real software”. I go looking for something that does X, find your script, and love it, except for the fact that it doesn’t also do Y. Golly gee, though, you wrote it in Ruby, so I can monkey-patch the class to add Y functionality while still allowing people to install your original gem.

I believe there was an ending somewhere, but it’s been replaced by some thoughts about AI programmers. Send me a pull request if you find it.