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Reviewed: Friday, August 11, 2006

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Drew McDermott and anti-literacy
Saturday, May 13, 2006

Drew McDermott has a nice essay on the benefits and difficulties of literate programming. The bit that resonates with me the most is this paragraph:

During program development, I tend to build a partial solution to a problem, then realize it's wrong and discard it or turn it inside out. It's very hard to force yourself to write a bunch of prose during this process; not only is the writing mostly wasted, it slows down your thought processes.

except that I find this happening to me about three-quarters of the time that I try test-first development. I don't know exactly what I'm doing (cf. Paul Graham's wonderful introduction to On Lisp or ANSI Standard Lisp (I can't remember which one)) and writing tests often turns out to be silly. Perhaps I'm just not getting out or can't rid myself of other bad habits or perhaps test first isn't something that makes sense all of the time.


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