[wp-hackers] Improving the mailing list. (Was Auto Update Plugins)

Jacob Santos wordpress at santosj.name
Sat Feb 21 20:52:36 GMT 2009

The "Code is Poetry" mantra is a farce and should die as the religion 
behind it is no more (Not to say WordPress as a religion or Hinduism is 
dead, but the nonexistant religion used to slam the slogan is). A code 
review of some of the older bits has shown in the past that if you are 
talking about core code, you will see gems worthy of TDWTF.com. There 
are some beautifully written parts of code, some date back to 2.0 and 
even a few date back as far as 1.5 (plugin API, new, not the old).

That said, the instance I'm talking about was in the widget API and that 
wasn't created until I believe 2.0 and wasn't included until 2.2. There 
have been other parts, but I don't actively care or review code for 
smelling (not that I can fix add_post() anyway, it probably has good 
reason for it's extremely high C.R.A.P)

I think the problem with it, is that it takes from Behavior Driven 
Development and the philosophy that function calls should be words that 
people (developers and end users) can understand, as well as the code 
should be self-documentable.

To use the discussion from a co-worker:

"Why do they say, 'Code is Poetry'?"

"I don't know, that is just something they say."

"The code doesn't rhyme."

If the slogan is supposed to be that the code shouldn't "Stink" then it 
should say so, but "Code is Poetry" means nothing, unless it is applied 
to some worthless to something of worth from Apple, whose shit doesn't 
stink and is gold colored (some say that is because it actually is gold, 
but I don't tend to believe crazy talk).

That said, there are many part of the WordPress code that does Smell and 
smells quite awful sometimes. If you apply the metrics for coding to 
WordPress, most of the functions will be off the wall, passed what they 
are normally and what they should be. Now, I do know that metrics aren't 
everything and being able to break them is part of developing a project, 
yet it stands that the majority of important parts of the code exists of 
functions with around or over 20 lines, with fantastic level of C.R.A.P.

So I mean, "Code is Poetry" should not be applied to WordPress, unless 
you want someone to go through the worthless task of creating functions 
of names that actually do rhyme when you call them in HTML. "Code 
Doesn't Smell" should be the slogan of WordPress, as they can go to 
Wikipedia to get the meaning and learn all about the techniques about it.

I would rather plugins, themes and patches not smell, than contain 
"poetry." Code smelling (Blob class anti-pattern, lack of inline 
documentation, lack of test cases, lack of code reuse, etc) is quite 
frankly a bigger problem and something I'm more concern with than code 
being some half-baked philosophy from what it would appear to be some 
hippie or "drug specialist." (Specialist of the Weed (not the kind you 
pull up from the garden)).

I'll rather people not associate me with a drug user or a hippie thank 
you. My code doesn't (hopefully, and by damn, I will fix it if it does) 

Jacob Santos

PS: Although the use of fallacies of argument are used throughout the 
reply, I don't think it takes away from the overall message that "Code 
is Poetry" is worthless, because it doesn't mean anything except to Matt 
Mullenweg and if he uses it, then it will be another argument from 
fallacy. People may think they know (I have no clue, except what I've 
read of "good" code that doesn't "smell"), but they don't, because it 
hasn't been defined by the person who stated it. If we are going to have 
the philosophy that function names should reference the action they are 
going to take and describe the purpose of the function, then that is 
okay. There is a name for that and it isn't "Poetry" and I implore 
people to find it.

Peter Westwood wrote:
> On 21 Feb 2009, at 00:47, Mike Schinkel wrote:
>> Your list is very helpful but can I please ask for clarification on 
>> this point?
>>  * Work with the project philosophy not against it
> Ok. It is hard to describe in a succinct way but there are a few 
> things in general.
>  * "Code is Poetry"
>  * WordPress is a platform
>  * "Options are bad" - User Interface should be simple, obvious and 
> easy to use for everyone (including your cat ;-))
>  * Standard compliance
> "Options are bad" is the one that people often come up against and 
> have the most trouble with.  The basic idea behind this (for me) is 
> that the software needs to be configurable but you should only present 
> the user with the options they really need to care about - the rest of 
> the time you make a decision about what is the best behaviour and you 
> just implement that.  This implementation should be done in such a way 
> that hooks (actions/filters) are available so that a different 
> implementation can be provided by a plugin.
> I'm sure I've missed a lot here.
> westi

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