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What's your favourite quote about programming?

One quote per answer, and please check for duplicates before posting!


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166 Answers 166

The best indication of software quality is consistent indentation

I read this when I was following up footnotes in SICP once but I've not been able to find it since, so a) I can't attribute it and b) I am writing from memory, and more than likely paraphrasing. I have, however, found it to be true.

ironic that people don't use IDEs with automatic indentation, then. – Dan Rosenstark Mar 5 '11 at 8:19

Release early. Release often. -- Eric S. Raymond

Popularized by Eric S. Raymond in "The Cathedral and the Bazaar" ( The third part of ESR's quote is "And listen to your customers." – Bill Karwin Sep 9 '10 at 18:12

Progress isn't made by early risers. It's made by lazy men trying to find easier ways to do something.

-Robert Heinlein


Minimal Functionality to the desktop as soon as possible.


As a general rule, the most successful man in life is the man who has the best information.
  — Benjamin Disraeli


The whole history of this invention has been a struggle against time.
  — Charles Babbage on the Analytical Engine, 1837


Skill Appreciates Skill

(Or, It Takes One to Know One)

I have often felt that programming is an art form,
whose real value can only be appreciated
by another versed in the same arcane art;
there are lovely gems and brilliant coups
hidden from human view and admiration, sometimes forever,
by the very nature of the process.
You can learn a lot about an individual
just by reading through his code, even in hexadecimal.

From The Story of Mel, a Real Programmer (free verse version)

I had no idea there was actually a short Wikipedia article with links to both prose and verse versions of the story, along with other information.


Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem

(Keep it simple, stupid)

Years ago I ran across a poster that had the Latin expression with the English translation under it.

I don't think it's ironic, because the latin is "Occam's Razor" and most people, myself included, won't understand the Latin. – Mark C Oct 21 '10 at 19:10
@Mark - Ah, thanks. I didn't realize it was Occam's Razor. "Entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity" ('s_razor). – Paperjam Oct 23 '10 at 17:27
I generally prefer h2g2 to Wikipedia: the writing's better quality. – TRiG Dec 1 '10 at 19:09

Keep it Simple!

Duplicate of… – Roger Pate Oct 28 '10 at 2:34

"Real programmers don't see code, they see trees."

Programmers don't quit, they just go offline. :)

XML is like violence - if it doesn’t solve your problems, you are not using enough of it.

Children, please don't forget that violence is no's an instrument to accomplish a solution. – Bobby Dec 28 '10 at 11:06

Programming is an art form that fights back

-- Unknown

Note: especially when you're oncall...


True story:

I was doing a project for school in c++ and needless to say there was some compiler wrestling. As I got more pissed of I started naming my test functions shit with fuck variants for variables. At some point to every-bodies amusement I yelled "Why isn't this fuck pointing to shit?!?!?"


Impossible is Nothing

Although belongs to Adidas, but fits Software development well.

This is especially priceless when your boss comes armed with that, and a change request which is essentially the halting problem. "I don't care about your fancy-schmancy CS theory; you will make it work, to be delivered next week, because I already billed the client for it. Impossible is nothing, right? RIGHT!?" (not surprisingly, that person is no longer my boss) – Piskvor Feb 8 '11 at 9:54
Yes right, and really impossible is nothing. Why should one posses a CS Degree if he isn't capable to make things work the way they should. – Sheikh Aman Feb 8 '11 at 9:58

Comments in code are like sex. When they are good -- it's very, very good. But when they are bad, they are better than nothing.

-- Anonymous

"Out of date and now just misleading" falls under "bad" and that's even worse than nothing. – doppelgreener Jan 20 '11 at 23:26

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