Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Flawless Code

Great article on how near flawless software gets written to launch space shuttles. For the rest of us who have to content ourselves with the bugzilla of business application software this seems like a fairytale. Interestingly enough, getting to that level of perfection is hardly rocket science.

What's going on here is the kind of nuts-and-bolts work that defines the drive for group perfection -- a drive that is aggressively intolerant of ego-driven hotshots. In the shuttle group's culture, there are no superstar programmers. The whole approach to developing software is intentionally designed not to rely on any particular person.

And the culture is equally intolerant of creativity, the individual coding flourishes and styles that are the signature of the all-night software world. "People ask, doesn't this process stifle creativity? You have to do exactly what the manual says, and you've got someone looking over your shoulder," says Keller. "The answer is, yes, the process does stifle creativity."

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