Prefactoring

18 05 2007

I have a text file full of links and notes extracted from about a month of reading everything posted to the 2 dozen Ruby, Rails, Postgres, and web tech blogs that I subscribe to via RSS. There’s so much going on in Ruby and Rails in particular, especially when it comes to convenient shortcuts that save you work, that there’s something new and cool and slightly revolutionary on a daily basis that you could use to make your app prettier.

So I’ve been in a state of analysis paralysis for about a week.

I was trying so hard to be clever and state of the art that I forgot to get something working.

Really, I have an admin login page that’s done poorly, and a list of user visits that is pointless but follows the RESTful paradigm that’s so popular nowadays. The admin login works, because I decided I didn’t care if it was pretty, I just wanted something to work front-to-back, HTML template to database, so I hacked it. The regular login doesn’t work, because I let myself get scared into trying to use advanced stuff that I don’t understand when I also don’t understand the basic stuff intuitively yet.

I dub this antipattern Prefactoring. If premature optimization is the root of all evil, prefactoring is the reason engineering-dominated projects tend to fall over sideways while the developers, like lotus eaters, are perfectly happy to keep playing with bright shiny new doodads and never get anything working.

I’m ready to get some stuff working (ugly code, but with tests so I know it works) now. I’ll refactor it later.


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