May 24

Adventures in Builder-Builder Land

A co-worker of mine appears to have a motto.  I say appears, because I doubt he would actually say this, or claim that it was actually his motto.  But here it is:

Never build an application when you can build an application framework.

I must say that I admire his persistence.  I’ve been working with him for two years, and he’s never actually gotten a framework worth a damn.  Maybe its because he gives up just when it goes past “conceptual prototype.”  Maybe it’s because he applies his personal biases and assumption to the framework, to the point that any deviation from the framework bias renders it unusable.  Maybe its because his frameworks relentlessly grow more and more complicated (and, of course, undocumented) as he adds features, to the point that they become maintenance nightmares par excellance – lacking in any of the -ilities, other than perhaps fatility.

It is, perhaps, a good thing that those of us who must live in the shadow of the builder-builder have built a support group, with wonderful code words and phrases that send tears of laughter into our eyes, or daggers of rage into our hearts at a moment’s notice.   Sound effects, catch phrases (“Yeah, but you have to support it!”), props (our latest is a box of crayons as the “graph builder-builder”) and wonderful realms of conceptual fancy where frameworks hold sway over the earth, enslaving the poor lowly applications in the iron chains of single-purposedness.

At one point in my career, I might have been jealous of the builder-builder, living without consequence, without accountability, without deadlines, without domain expertise, without any real-world constraints on what he architects and prototypes.  But now, I like building things that work, that actually get delivered, that get used by customers.   So we keep our props, and our catch phrases (“It’s completely configurable, All you need is to put some code in the XML.”) close at hand, to serve both as a source of amusement, and as a solemn reminder of what not to do.

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