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Programming Science

'The Code Has Already Been Written' 253

theodp writes "John D. Cook points out there's a major divide between the way scientists and programmers view the software they write. Scientists see their software as a kind of exoskeleton, an extension of themselves. Programmers, on the other hand, see their software as something they will hand over to someone else, more like building a robot. To a scientist, the software soup's done when they get what they want out of it, while professional programmers give more thought to reproducibility, maintainability, and correctness. So what happens when the twain meet? 'The real tension,' says Cook, 'comes when a piece of research software is suddenly expected to be ready for production. The scientist will say 'the code has already been written' and can't imagine it would take much work, if any, to prepare the software for its new responsibilities. They don't understand how hard it is for an engineer to turn an exoskeleton into a self-sufficient robot.'"
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'The Code Has Already Been Written'

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  • by Fnord666 ( 889225 ) on Sunday July 24, 2011 @04:30PM (#36864724) Journal

    The problem with that is recognizing what code is going to be reused by others and what isn't.

    One way to tell is to ask if this a temporary quick fix for something. If they say yes, assume it will be in production forever.

  • by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) * on Sunday July 24, 2011 @04:58PM (#36864890)

    I'm working on commercializing NASA software and this couldn't be more true. When talking to the inventor they inevitably say "Oh yea the software is done, anyone can write code for this, should be easy to sell." even if it's coded in Fortran,, has no Gui or documentation of any sort. It definitely is functional but hardly has any of the features consumers demand.

    You know, php / ruby / scripting-language-du-jur might solve many "Web 2.0" problems (Jquery, MooTools, and all the other JS libraries are seriously cool stuff), but there is a reason there is "still" a lot of scientific coding being done with Fortran (which continues to be developed like most modern programming languages), and other "niche" languages. This is not the forum to educate you on that little but notable fact...

    But really, I can't quite decide if your post is a troll or not, with lines like "even if it's coded in Fortran" and "has no Gui" and "hardly has any of the features consumers demand"...

    I mean, is NASA really writing software that might readily apeal to "consumer demand"?

    I'm leaning in the direction that your AC post is a troll, so I'll give you a few points for being able to get me to respond, but I have to subtract points for the lameness and general poor lay-up.

    You show potential for developing a good troll shtick / persona but you've got a long way to go. 2 out of 10. Work on it.

Never worry about theory as long as the machinery does what it's supposed to do. -- R. A. Heinlein