As any experienced computer programmer knows, there are unwritten laws that govern software development. However there are no penalties for breaking these laws; rather, there is often a reward. Following are 21 Laws of Computer Programming:
- Any given program, once deployed, is already obsolete.
- It is easier to change the specification to fit the program than vice versa.
- If a program is useful, it will have to be changed.
- If a program is useless, it will have to be documented.
- Only ten percent of the code in any given program will ever execute.
- Software expands to consume all available resources.
- Any non-trivial program contains at least one error.
- The probability of a flawless demo is inversely proportional to the number of people watching, raised to the power of the amount of money involved.
- Not until a program has been in production for at least six months will its most harmful error be discovered.
- Undetectable errors are infinite in variety, in contrast to detectable errors, which by definition are limited.
- The effort required to correct an error increases exponentially with time.
- Program complexity grows until it exceeds the capabilities of the programmer who must maintain it.
- Any code of your own that you haven’t looked at in months might as well have been written by someone else.
- Inside every small program is a large program struggling to get out.
- The sooner you start coding a program, the longer it will take.
- A carelessly planned project takes three times longer to complete than expected; a carefully planned project takes only twice as long.
- Adding programmers to a late project makes it later.
- A program is never less than 90% complete, and never more than 95% complete.
- If you automate a mess, you get an automated mess.
- Build a program that even a fool can use, and only a fool will want to use it.
- Users truly don’t know what they want in a program until they use it.
Article published on June 17, 2008
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