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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

There, it should work now.

— All programmers

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A few months writing code can save you a few hours in design.

Which is modified from:

A few months in the laboratory can save you a few hours in the library.

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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?!?!?"

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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

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"Out of date and now just misleading" falls under "bad" and that's even worse than nothing. –  Jonathan Hobbs Jan 20 '11 at 23:26
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Programming is an art form that fights back

-- Unknown

Note: especially when you're oncall...

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Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build bigger and better idiot-proof programs, and the Universe trying to produce bigger and better idiots. So far, the Universe is winning.

— Rick Cook

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

-Robert Heinlein

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Impossible is Nothing

Although belongs to Adidas, but fits Software development well.

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

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A quote on recursion and programming in general I came up with today.

Only fools believe in foolproof systems.

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Being a good software engineer is 3% talent, 97% not being distracted by the internet.

— Unknown, appropriated

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That's not true at -- d'oh! –  Steve Melnikoff Oct 26 '10 at 15:25
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...and 1% avoiding fence post errors. –  Roger Pate Oct 28 '10 at 2:35
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XML is like violence - if it doesn’t solve your problems, you are not using enough of it.

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Not really a programming quote, more of an IT one, but one that my A-Level IT teacher drummed into me aged 16:

Typing is no substitute for Thinking

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Admirably ambiguous. –  Randall Schulz Sep 22 '10 at 17:49
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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.

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Don't code today what you can't debug tomorrow

from this blog's title

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If you can't measure it, you can't improve it.

Lord Kelvin

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It should be noted that no ethically-trained software engineer would ever consent to write a DestroyBaghdad procedure. Basic professional ethics would instead require him to write a DestroyCity procedure, to which Baghdad could be given as a parameter.

Nathaniel Borenstein

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There is no object-oriented problem that cannot be solved by adding a layer of indirection, except, of course, too many layers of indirection.

-- From "The Art of Unit Testing" Roy Osherove (attributed to an unnamed source)

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Knowledge is knowledge. And viceversa.

From a T-shirt.

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Well, not my favorite but...

If it is not broken, don't fix it

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If it needs a refactor, it's broken :-) –  bigown Sep 11 '10 at 8:26
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My colleague has a T-shirt that says: "Engineer's motto: If it ain't broke, take it apart and fix it!" –  Kaz Dragon Oct 21 '10 at 9:17
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Open source is free only if your time costs nothing

Heard it from a guy I worked with. Don't know who came up with this.

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That's not so true, though. –  Mark C Sep 28 '10 at 12:37
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@Mark That's not what I meant... This quote is about the misconception that choosing an open source product over a commercial one is better because you don't have to pay for license (use, not develop). This is stupid, of course, since most of the time whatever you saved in licences you pay in programmer time due to lack of support and/or using products that are not good enough. There are good reasons to use OS. License price, I think, is not one of them. –  Hila Sep 28 '10 at 19:46
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My quote file attributes this to JWZ. –  khedron Oct 1 '10 at 21:03
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A good algorithm is like a sharp knife - it does exactly what it is supposed to do with a minimum amount of applied effort. Using the wrong algorithm to solve a problem is trying to cut a steak with a screwdriver: you may eventually get a digestible result, but you will expend considerable more effort than necessary, and the result is unlikely to be aesthetically pleasing.

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A mouthful, but good. Like steak! –  webbiedave Oct 12 '10 at 22:01
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A programmer started to cuss
Because getting to sleep was a fuss
As he lay there in bed
Looping 'round in his head
was: while(!asleep()) sheep++;

Not quite a quote as such, but I little limerick I've always liked.

Source piercings - bash.org/?845468

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One accurate measurement is worth more than a thousand expert opinions.

Admiral Grace Hopper

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Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.

proverb from japan

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Knowledge is proud that it knows so much; wisdom is humble that it knows no more.

--William Cowper

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We should forget about small efficiencies, say about 97% of the time: premature optimization is the root of all evil. Yet we should not pass up our opportunities in that critical 3%.
  — Donald Knuth, Structured Programming with go to Statements, JACM Computing Surveys, Vol 6, No. 4, Dec. 1974, p.268

This is extracted from the below two paragraphs, which not only say why he comes to the above conclusion, but gives information on how to avoid this mistake:

There is no doubt that the grail of efficiency leads to abuse. Programmers waste enormous amounts of time thinking about, or worrying about, the speed of noncritical parts of their programs, and these attempts at efficiency actually have a strong negative impact when debugging and maintenance are considered. We should forget about small efficiencies, say about 97% of the time: premature optimization is the root of all evil.

Yet we should not pass up our opportunities in that critical 3%. A good programmer will not be lulled into complacency by such reasoning, he will be wise to look carefully at the critical code; but only after that code has been identified. It is often a mistake to make a priori judgments about what parts of a program are really critical, since the universal experience of programmers who have been using measurement tools has been that their intuitive guesses fail. (…)

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@Roger Pate: I suspect you're right, most people don't realize there is more to the quote. –  Scott Dorman Sep 9 '10 at 14:01
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+1 for posting the whole thing. –  Mason Wheeler Sep 9 '10 at 23:41
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Hope you don't mind that I included a bit more. I think it's really important and maybe this will encourage more to read the full paper. :) –  Roger Pate Sep 10 '10 at 17:36
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+1 Thanks for the full quote. I never know there was more to it. –  Evan Plaice Sep 11 '10 at 9:10
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It's great that you posted the entire quote. A lot of people just know the sort version and have no idea what Knuth actually meant by that. –  DasIch Dec 26 '10 at 1:15
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What you are asking me to do is like trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube. It doesn't work.

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Profanity is the one language all programmers know best.

-- Anonymous

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If you fail to plan, you plan to fail

-My c# Teacher (not sure where he heard it from!)

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