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Code Lifespan
Surely (no one/everyone) will (recognize how flexible and useful this architecture is/spend a huge amount of effort painstakingly preserving and updating this garbage I wrote in 20 minutes)
Title text: Surely (no one/everyone) will (recognize how flexible and useful this architecture is/spend a huge amount of effort painstakingly preserving and updating this garbage I wrote in 20 minutes)

Explanation

Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Created by a BOT PROGRAMMED 50 YEARS AGO. Do NOT delete this tag too soon.

This comic contrasts two scenarios involving Ponytail writing a computer program: in the first panel, she has taken great care to future-proof her code, while in the second, she decides not to under the assumption it will soon be deprecated and/or replaced. The captions below each panels note that, ironically, code written with future-proofing in mind will often quickly cease to be used — defeating the purpose of future-proofing — while the code that was not will often be used much longer than the original programmer(s) intended.

The second panel is an allusion to the Year 2000 problem, although it is important to note that the problem was not simply due to developers not thinking ahead but also because the developers were working with extremely limited computer resources at the time, promoting the use of 2-digit years.

The title text is a modular sentence with two parentheticals, each containing two alternative phrases. This allows for four permutations of the sentence, each of which may be said by programmers. The following two permutations may be the hoped-for ideals of software developers:

  • "Surely everyone will recognize how flexible and useful this architecture is."
  • "Surely no one will spend a huge amount of effort painstakingly preserving and updating this garbage I wrote in 20 minutes."

However, reality often falls short of such hopes, in that insufficient numbers of people recognize code intended for re-use, and far more people than intended will attempt to maintain and adapt sloppy work. The latter sometimes happens because the corner-cutting peculiarities of hasty work are often seen as far deeper necessities than they actually are. The remaining two permutations of the title text sentence express this far less hopeful outlook:

  • "Surely no one will recognize how flexible and useful this architecture is."
  • "Surely everyone will spend a huge amount of effort painstakingly preserving and updating this garbage I wrote in 20 minutes."

Transcript

Ambox notice.png This transcript is incomplete. Please help editing it! Thanks.
[Two situations are depicted between Ponytail and Cueball.]
[Ponytail standing next to Cueball, with her palm raised.]
Ponytail: It took some extra work to build, but now we'll be able to use it for all our future projects.
[Caption below the panel:]
How to ensure your code is never reused
[Nearly identical situation to the first, but with the arm raised slightly less emphatically.]
Ponytail: Let's not overthink it; if this code is still in use that far in the future, we'll have bigger problems.
[Caption below the panel:]
How to ensure your code lives forever


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