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Beautiful Code by Greg Wilson, Andy Oram

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Appendix A. Afterword

Andy Oram

Beautiful code surveys the range of human invention and ingenuity in one area of endeavor: the development of computer systems. The beauty in each chapter comes from the discovery of unique solutions, a discovery springing from the authors’ power to look beyond set boundaries, to recognize needs overlooked by others, and to find surprising solutions to troubling problems.

Many of the authors confronted limitations—in the physical environment, in the resources available, or in the very definition of their requirements—that made it hard even to imagine solutions. Others entered domains where solutions already existed, but brought in a new vision and a conviction that something much better could be achieved.

All the authors in this book have drawn lessons from their projects. But we can also draw some broader lessons after making the long and eventful journey through the whole book.

First, there are times when tried and true rules really do work. So, often one encounters difficulties when trying to maintain standards for robustness, readability, or other tenets of good software engineering. In such situations, it is not always necessary to abandon the principles that hold such promise. Sometimes, getting up and taking a walk around the problem can reveal a new facet that allows one to meet the requirements without sacrificing good technique.

On the other hand, some chapters confirm the old cliché that one must know the rules before one can break them. Some ...

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