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Surely It Should Just Work?


Surely It Should Just Work?

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Phil Factor
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Comments posted to this topic are about the item Surely It Should Just Work?


Best wishes,

Phil Factor
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GSquared
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Of course it "should just work", but so should everything else.

My car has an automatic transmission. My wife's has a manual. If I try to drive hers the way I drive mine, I'll destroy the engine by staying in first gear the whole trip. If I try to drive mine the way I drive hers, I'll be pounding on the left side of the brake pedal and messing stuff up every time I try to change gears and there isn't a clutch pedal there.

She has a Swiss Army knife, I have a locking-blade pocket knife. Again, try to use them the same way, and I'm liable to lose fingers (hers doesn't lock), or break the knife (mine doesn't have a bottle opener or screwdriver on it).

Shouldn't those things "just work"? Yep. But they don't. You have to use a tool the way it's designed. Some are going to be optimized for one thing, some for others.

I can do things with my knife, because of the locking blade, that wouldn't be safe with hers. I can do things with hers that wouldn't be possible with mine.

Surely pocket knives, perhaps the most ancient piece of technology on the planet, should be similar enough that specialized expertise with one would translate into specialized expertise with the other. Or they should "just work" well enough that one doesn't need specialized expertise with any knife. If you think that, then try doing with a fileting knife what you would do with a chisel, or vice versa.

So, why should software, which is just another tool, have some special "just workness" to it, that no other technology on this planet has? Specialization by tools and knowledge has always been humanity's greatest evolutionary advantage. Why would that have changed in the last 50 years? Different tools should have different strengths and weaknesses. Over time, these will evolve into the kind of true specializations that differentiate a jewler's mallet from a hydraulic press (both are hammers).

Sure, the differences now aren't that well-defined and don't have that kind of special utility, in some cases. But we are seeing some of it, a la, SQL Mobile vs SQL Enterprise. It just takes some time to really get there. Wheelbarrows vs 18-wheelers didn't happen in a decade or five.

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Elliott Whitlow
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That was an amazing analogy G.. It is just perfect..

CEWII
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Elliott W (11/16/2009)
That was an amazing analogy G.. It is just perfect..

CEWII


Thanks.

I view things from an evolutionary viewpoint, and that includes tools and ideas.

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Elliott Whitlow
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The part I like the best is that it paints a VERY clear picture and the comparison is VERY apples to apples.

CEWII
jay-h
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I don't know how many times I've seen people use functions (especially user-defined functions) as if they were overhead free. After all, the form "function(parameter)" looks so simple, but could easily be hiding enormous amounts of machine time (and calling other UDFs that hide more machine time). Unless users really think about what they are doing in terms of cpu and disk access, it's easy to be lulled into poor design.

Even with sophisticated optimizers, user constructs can (if the user does not understand them) prevent the use of optimization.

[at the extreme, we might consider the mathematician's "function" which is often an abstract to clean up a proof. The fact that such a 'function' could take longer than the age of the universe to execute is immaterial the mathematicians.]

...

-- FORTRAN manual for Xerox Computers --
Steve Jones
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GSquared (11/16/2009)

She has a Swiss Army knife, I have a locking-blade pocket knife.


I think it's cool both you and your wife have knives Smile

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GSquared
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Steve Jones - Editor (11/17/2009)
GSquared (11/16/2009)

She has a Swiss Army knife, I have a locking-blade pocket knife.


I think it's cool both you and your wife have knives Smile


It's mankind's oldest invention (as opposed to the rock or club, which is the oldest discovery), and still useful on a day-to-day basis. I don't understand why anyone would not carry one.

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TheSQLGuru
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Steve Jones - Editor (11/17/2009)
GSquared (11/16/2009)

She has a Swiss Army knife, I have a locking-blade pocket knife.


I think it's cool both you and your wife have knives Smile


And clearly his wife has the smarts in the family! Swiss Army Knives can be AMAZINGLY useful tools! I have been carrying one (except on commercial flights - dammit!!) for almost 30 years. Being able to travel with my knife is one of the hidden benefits to having my own plane! Cool

As for the article and thought that databases should just work, I say poppy-cock, and not just because the original premise comes from Joe Celko. ANY reasonably complex system where you want/need optimal performance or to be able to capture every little nook-and-cranny feature REQUIRES one (or at least part of the group) to be WELL VERSED in the internals of said system.

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Kevin G. Boles
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PocketJoshua
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It is fair to say who wouldn’t want it “To Just Work”. But at what cost? If all products just worked what would be the differentiators between one product and another.

There are good reasons to work towards standards so there is a degree of interoperability but in reality how good is that interoperability.

What standards and commonality does do is gives the developers a common ground to communicate and learn. Products should continue to evolve and “Just work” better. But not at the cost of providing real improvements and benefits to functionality and performance.

Many years ago I worked on a project that used the Java Message Queue stuff. Functionally it just worked. But the reference implementation was not robust enough for an enterprise environment. In comes a 3rd party product that cost $6K per processor but had a ridiculous performance and scalability compared to the reference implementation. Yes to Phil’s point it did just work, which is good, but the different implementations had different optimizations. If they were exactly the same where is the differentiator that make one more valuable than the other. If they are different then they will have different ways to use them that can impact the developer.



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