Thursday, May 08, 2008

Joel on Software: Never Rewrite from Scratch

I was thinking of Joel on Software's famous post Things You Should Never Do, Part I where he says, "[Netscape] did it by making the single worst strategic mistake that any software company can make: They decided to rewrite the code from scratch."

Since Joel is from Microsoft, I was pondering what would have happened if the Microsoft NT developers had taken that advice and based NT on DOS. Perhaps it's illustrative to compare the quality of Windows ME vs. Windows 2000 and XP.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well, they slapped 95 gui onto nt4 kernel, didn't they?

But they needed xyz+ years to get nt kernel into mainstream with xp, yes.

Noah Gift said...

Honestly, I want to see you rewrite Aquarium from scratch, with the modern set of components that are available today.

Anonymous said...

how about the old VMS to NT?

Shannon -jj Behrens said...

> how about the old VMS to NT?

That's a great counter argument. Thanks!

Shannon -jj Behrens said...

> That's a great counter argument. Thanks!

Great article. Actually, NT *was* a rewrite of VMS. Hence, my earlier point stands. Sometimes rewrites are necessary and successful.

Shannon -jj Behrens said...

> Honestly, I want to see you rewrite Aquarium from scratch, with the modern set of components that are available today.

Nah, there's no reason.

* Aquarium provided an abstraction layer so that you could run it on any server. These days, WSGI exists.

* Aquarium did a really nice job loading Cheetah templates on the fly and supporting template inheritance (where the base class gets to go first). Both Mako and Django templates can now do this. Genshi is even cooler.

* Aquarium provided a bunch of nice libraries, such as session handling, URL parsing, header management, talking to the database, etc. All of these exist elsewhere.

* Aquarium was very carefully written and very stable. Pylons is pretty similar in spirit.

The truth of the matter is, I've donated tons of stuff from Aquarium to Pylons. Hence, I don't feel bad if only IronPort is using Aquarium.

Noah Gift said...

So you spirit lives on in Pylons...ok, I suppose then part of it did get rewritten then :)

Stephan Eggermont said...

NT wasn't rewritten from scratch. MS hired the guy who developed VMS for digital.

Shannon -jj Behrens said...

> NT wasn't rewritten from scratch. MS hired the guy who developed VMS for digital.

See the earlier comments ;) The link was pretty good too.