Doddery Fodder

By Frank Wales

One of the easiest ways to convince people that your language has something going for it is to have some sexy example programs to show it off, preferably solving well- known or stereotypical problems. Or, failing that, printing 'Hello world'. Many of the latter programs exist in this ever-growing collection of hundreds of examples in over a hundred different programming languages (which might also be handy for tutorials):

Those who've spent any time working with professional programmers will appreciate that it's not the choice of programming language that determine the success or failure of a project, as much as the quality and behaviour of the people. Here's a draft paper, posted for comments, that attempts to bring one practitioner's views on the topic to the fore:

I do find it interesting that while this quotes Gerald Weinberg, there appears to be no recognition of the work of current members of PPIG. Perhaps you could help the author out here, if you think this is an omission.

One other thing not included is this paper is the job-security gambit practised by some developers, where they deliberately build obscure systems in order to be seen as indispensable to the project. For many great tips on how to do this, see this guide on writing unmaintainable code:

And lest the cynic in you think that all programmers really think this way anyway, here's at least one programmer's attempt to make people write better-quality C, which the world is definitely in need of:

Finally, if you're looking for something to print out for reading in the bath (what, you mean I'm the only person who does that?), here's a long, interesting essay on the changing face of large-scale software development:

If the future really is software development by mob, then our group may some day be subsumed into some future Sociology of Programming Interest Group. When that happens, they'll have to come up with a better web address than, since that's gone already. Suggestions on this, and other sites that might be of interest, are welcome.

Please feel free to e-mail Frank the ten commandments of Basic at

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