Software Practices and Tradition

In a little peaceful village, there lived a priest. Since he was the only priest, he presided over all ceremonial proceedings for all the families. An obedient apprentice accompanied the priest in all matters. So did the dog that lived around his dorm. Wherever the priest went, the dog followed.

Whenever the priest went to a wedding, the dog followed him. It roamed around in the wedding aisle and fiddled with flowers and crepes. The priest was annoyed and instructed his apprentice to tie the dog to a post. The apprentice would tie up the dog to a post. The priest would continue with the proceedings.

The priest went to the next wedding in the village. The dog followed and meddled. The priest asked the apprentice to tie the dog to a pole. Wedding continued. It became a routine rather custom.

Time passed, and unfortunately, the priest passed away. The dog which followed the priest everywhere lost its master and moved away from the village after a while. The apprentice had been under the tutelage for a long time and took over the role of the priest. He started presiding over the ceremonies and occasions of the village.

The apprentice, now a priest, went to preside over a wedding. He made all the arrangements at the site. When the ceremony was about to begin, he asked one of the helpers for a dog. The helper did not understand why the priest wanted a dog. The priest said we should tie a dog to the pole to proceed with the ceremony.

Take away

If we are not careful, we will make the mistake of building a software tradition (practices, standards, and conventions) based on such customs. For better or worse, those chosen in the early stages of the product tend to stick around for a very long time.

Later generations might not have the complete information or understanding of why they follow them today. So they will question it. It is a healthy sign - a sign to revisit such customs. And either rewrite or reiterate them.

Otherwise, engineers will look for a dog to tie to a pole to proceed with their ceremonies.