Sun, 08, Jul 2001 10:12:00 PM

by Charles Miller on July 8, 2001

Fred Brooks was right. You always have to throw the first one away.

I've been writing an IRC daemon. In Java. For absolutely no reason other than I felt like it. I was rocking along with it gradually, adding features, uploading a new jar file to sourceforge every month or so until I hit v0.17. 0.17 was missing quite a few vital commands, but it worked well with its two-thirds complete feature set. You could chat in private or run a channel.

Then I hit a brick wall. The problem was that in my rush to add features, I hadn't been leaving any supports behind me, and the moment I had to start tackling the complicated functions, it all started falling down around my ears. The code had become ugly. Every new feature I added was being hacked on, rather than fitting into a clean whole. I could easily have continued in this manner, but who wants to create something that's ugly? The program went several months without being worked on except in short spurts, during which I attempted to dig myself out of the hole I'd built, and just succeeded in losing track of which direction I was trying to dig. (Especially since I'd gone against all my XP instincts, and not coded any unit tests. (Bad boy!)

So today, I made the (probably foolhardy) decision to throw away just under 5000 lines of code and start again from scratch. I just wish I'd got the courage to do this earlier.

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