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There Will Be Code

30 September 2013 Leave a comment

“One might argue that a book about code is somehow behind the times—that code is no
longer the issue; that we should be concerned about models and requirements instead.
Indeed some have suggested that we are close to the end of code. That soon all code will
be generated instead of written. That programmers simply won’t be needed because business people will generate programs from specifications.

Nonsense! We will never be rid of code, because code represents the details of the
requirements. At some level those details cannot be ignored or abstracted; they have to be
specified. And specifying requirements in such detail that a machine can execute them is
programming. Such a specification is code.

I expect that the level of abstraction of our languages will continue to increase. I
also expect that the number of domain-specific languages will continue to grow. This
will be a good thing. But it will not eliminate code. Indeed, all the specifications written
in these higher level and domain-specific language will be code! It will still need to
be rigorous, accurate, and so formal and detailed that a machine can understand and
execute it.

The folks who think that code will one day disappear are like mathematicians who
hope one day to discover a mathematics that does not have to be formal. They are hoping
that one day we will discover a way to create machines that can do what we want rather
than what we say. These machines will have to be able to understand us so well that they
can translate vaguely specified needs into perfectly executing programs that precisely meet
those needs.

This will never happen. Not even humans, with all their intuition and creativity,
have been able to create successful systems from the vague feelings of their customers.
Indeed, if the discipline of requirements specification has taught us anything, it is that
well-specified requirements are as formal as code and can act as executable tests of that
code!

Remember that code is really the language in which we ultimately express the requirements.
We may create languages that are closer to the requirements. We may create tools
that help us parse and assemble those requirements into formal structures. But we will
never eliminate necessary precision—so there will always be code.”

Robert C. Martin – Clean Code. A Handbook of Agile Software Craftmanship.

Well said Robert. This summarises, in a few paragraphs, how important code is in our every day activities.

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