You are viewing a read-only archive of the Blogs.Harvard network. Learn more.
Skip to content

Bram versus Joel

Bram Cohen (Maker of BitTorrent) takes on Joel Spolsky (A well known software developer) on Joel’s Article on Leaky Abstractions. Some of the thoughts Bram has on the leaky abstractions article are well thought out and I think point out some of the dogma of the article and how Joel uses the example of TCP to try to prove something that Bram doesn’t feel it proves much of anything. I suggest you read both. I like Joel’s articles on software. Most of them are very pointed but tend to be right on the mark. However, as I’ve looked through more of Bram’s writing he offers a different viewpoint but also pointed and many things I agree with here. I have some more thoughts on both of their viewpoints but I think I’ll leave that to later. One difference in their viewpoints is of deployed softawre infrastructure thoughts (neither says it outright but if you read in between the liens you’ll see it)

Here’s an excerpt:

Joel Spolsky has an article in which he states

All non-trivial abstractions, to some degree, are leaky.

This is overly dogmatic – for example, bignum classes are exactly the same regardless of the native integer multiplication. Ignoring that, this statement is essentially true, but rather inane and missing the point. Without abstractions, all our code would be completely interdependent and unmaintainable, and abstractions do a remarkable job of cleaning that up. It is a testament to the power of abstraction and how much we take it for granted that such a statement can be made at all, as if we always expected to be able to write large pieces of software in a maintainable manner.

Link to article

Be Sociable, Share!