Thursday, June 16, 2016

Why Python community should take UX seriously

UX is a discipline that is dedicated to measuring user emotions and satisfaction while using a product in order to improve them. When you grow experience in any programming language you start to experience negative emotions towards small warts and glitches that constantly get in your way. You compare it to different languages and soon you're no more satisfied with it. Backward compatibility etc. doesn't allow to change things, but they should be changed, and UX is the criteria and method to answer how. But why?

People are dying too quickly. The process of learning new technology is fun and exciting, but when you look at the ideas in the past you'll see that we are not inventing anything new. People thought about many ideas, and couldn't implement them. I still don't have automation line that pours me coffee in the morning and bakes omelet and this idea is like 20 years old. I have no information about where my products are coming from - this idea is about 10 years old, and those fruits that are coming from hydroponics and pretty tasteless, so I'd prefer to buy something bathed in organic sun. Where are those inventions now? I am pretty sure somebody is trying to design these things in own basement, but those inventions will never see the light, because they are fragile, needs a lot of experience and education. Why learning is hard? It needs a lot of experience and education to learn concepts, operating systems internals and get used to various glitches and workarounds from the past. If Python was easier, if operating systems were more easy to learn and intuitively understand, not relying on elitist part of hacker culture, we could hack on more fun and reliable things today.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Why Roundup needs a router? is powered by ancient software. Most people nowadays won't install it. They would rather find something newer, with more features (consumers) or invent something from scratch that will be more modern from the start (makers).

How about trying a different approach - how about an approach that means constant evolution of the software? The reason why people reinvent things from scratch is because they often can not understand the complexity of what was already written. The burden of complexity is like tar that glues us to the surface, needs more force to take a step and slows us down. One way to get rid of it is to start again clean. But there is no guarantee that the same story won't happen if you couldn't see past complexity before.

A way of evolution is to face the complexity and deal with it. The way to deal with complexity tar is to learn to fly over it. Visualization, art, story-telling are helping to people to overcome limitations of our attention, interest, motivation and focus. There are tools to make complex things simple, there are things to look at the surface from above and choose a path that is still unexplored.

Router is a component that directs URL request to processing. Router says that http://../file142 should be processed by function that handles files, and http://../issue42 should be handled by function that processes issues. This logic is hardcoded into Roundup, so its URL structure doesn't change. If Roundup had this router, then it could be used as a replacement for existing trackers without breaking links. Router also allows Roundup extensions add new endpoints, such as ones required for OAuth2 processing or REST and ajax interface.

So, how to evolve software? It takes media and coordination skills first, and code review and design second. Additional code that makes code more complex should be backed up by documentation that explains it, every lengthy documentation that gives details should be accompanied by concise overview and reminder picture, every yak shaving process should be automated, every upstream tools need to be improved. Evolution is a global process, and it is hard (if not impossible) to evolve one agent if the whole ecosystem is not changing. Changing ecosystem or tools that are already stable like Python require process shift that drastically changes how people coordinate, approve, mutate and select the branches with features that comfort them.