Skip to main content

Joel on Software: Never Rewrite from Scratch

I was thinking of Joel on Software's famous post Things You Should Never Do, Part I where he says, "[Netscape] did it by making the single worst strategic mistake that any software company can make: They decided to rewrite the code from scratch."

Since Joel is from Microsoft, I was pondering what would have happened if the Microsoft NT developers had taken that advice and based NT on DOS. Perhaps it's illustrative to compare the quality of Windows ME vs. Windows 2000 and XP.


Anonymous said…
Well, they slapped 95 gui onto nt4 kernel, didn't they?

But they needed xyz+ years to get nt kernel into mainstream with xp, yes.
Noah Gift said…
Honestly, I want to see you rewrite Aquarium from scratch, with the modern set of components that are available today.
jjinux said…
> how about the old VMS to NT?

That's a great counter argument. Thanks!
jjinux said…
> That's a great counter argument. Thanks!

Great article. Actually, NT *was* a rewrite of VMS. Hence, my earlier point stands. Sometimes rewrites are necessary and successful.
jjinux said…
> Honestly, I want to see you rewrite Aquarium from scratch, with the modern set of components that are available today.

Nah, there's no reason.

* Aquarium provided an abstraction layer so that you could run it on any server. These days, WSGI exists.

* Aquarium did a really nice job loading Cheetah templates on the fly and supporting template inheritance (where the base class gets to go first). Both Mako and Django templates can now do this. Genshi is even cooler.

* Aquarium provided a bunch of nice libraries, such as session handling, URL parsing, header management, talking to the database, etc. All of these exist elsewhere.

* Aquarium was very carefully written and very stable. Pylons is pretty similar in spirit.

The truth of the matter is, I've donated tons of stuff from Aquarium to Pylons. Hence, I don't feel bad if only IronPort is using Aquarium.
Noah Gift said…
So you spirit lives on in Pylons...ok, I suppose then part of it did get rewritten then :)
Anonymous said…
NT wasn't rewritten from scratch. MS hired the guy who developed VMS for digital.
jjinux said…
> NT wasn't rewritten from scratch. MS hired the guy who developed VMS for digital.

See the earlier comments ;) The link was pretty good too.

Popular posts from this blog

Ubuntu 20.04 on a 2015 15" MacBook Pro

I decided to give Ubuntu 20.04 a try on my 2015 15" MacBook Pro. I didn't actually install it; I just live booted from a USB thumb drive which was enough to try out everything I wanted. In summary, it's not perfect, and issues with my camera would prevent me from switching, but given the right hardware, I think it's a really viable option. The first thing I wanted to try was what would happen if I plugged in a non-HiDPI screen given that my laptop has a HiDPI screen. Without sub-pixel scaling, whatever scale rate I picked for one screen would apply to the other. However, once I turned on sub-pixel scaling, I was able to pick different scale rates for the internal and external displays. That looked ok. I tried plugging in and unplugging multiple times, and it didn't crash. I doubt it'd work with my Thunderbolt display at work, but it worked fine for my HDMI displays at home. I even plugged it into my TV, and it stuck to the 100% scaling I picked for the othe

ERNOS: Erlang Networked Operating System

I've been reading Dreaming in Code lately, and I really like it. If you're not a dreamer, you may safely skip the rest of this post ;) In Chapter 10, "Engineers and Artists", Alan Kay, John Backus, and Jaron Lanier really got me thinking. I've also been thinking a lot about Minix 3 , Erlang , and the original Lisp machine . The ideas are beginning to synthesize into something cohesive--more than just the sum of their parts. Now, I'm sure that many of these ideas have already been envisioned within , LLVM , Microsoft's Singularity project, or in some other place that I haven't managed to discover or fully read, but I'm going to blog them anyway. Rather than wax philosophical, let me just dump out some ideas: Start with Minix 3. It's a new microkernel, and it's meant for real use, unlike the original Minix. "This new OS is extremely small, with the part that runs in kernel mode under 4000 lines of executable code.&quo

Haskell or Erlang?

I've coded in both Erlang and Haskell. Erlang is practical, efficient, and useful. It's got a wonderful niche in the distributed world, and it has some real success stories such as CouchDB and Haskell is elegant and beautiful. It's been successful in various programming language competitions. I have some experience in both, but I'm thinking it's time to really commit to learning one of them on a professional level. They both have good books out now, and it's probably time I read one of those books cover to cover. My question is which? Back in 2000, Perl had established a real niche for systems administration, CGI, and text processing. The syntax wasn't exactly beautiful (unless you're into that sort of thing), but it was popular and mature. Python hadn't really become popular, nor did it really have a strong niche (at least as far as I could see). I went with Python because of its elegance, but since then, I've coded both p