So What?
Subject:   Beautiful code and fitness for real life
Date:   2007-09-06 12:05:43
From:   andyo
Because Shelley starts her quite deep article with a reference to debates over Beautiful Code and I co-edited the book, I'd like to talk a bit about its appropriateness. I appreciate the Shelley summarized the long discussions on the Net about the lack of women in the book, and I'll leave it up to readers to do a web search rather than rehash the efforts we put in to getting woman authors.

What I want to say here is that I absolutely agree with the importance of a program fitting into the real world and into how people work. One of the themes in several of the chapters of Beautiful Code is that code can be beautiful by solving a need in a surprising and elegant way, even if the code itself isn't elegant by textbook standards. While some solutions in the book justify themselves along lines of efficiency or maintainability, many justify themselves by an unusual sensitivity to the context in which the programs are used.

I bet this theme would have been strengthened, had we recruited more women to the book. Luckily, we're doing some follow-up books, so we have more chances.

I'll also mention that a couple of the creators of code in this book have non-programming careers and created the code shown discussed in the book as a side line. So I see a role for people in other fields to contribute to programming.