Solve your own problem


The Open Source world embraced this mantra a long time ago — they call it “scratching your own itch.” For the open source developers, it means they get the tools they want, delivered the way they want them. But the benefit goes much deeper.

As the designer or developer of a new application, you’re faced with hundreds of microdecisions each and every day: blue or green? One table or two? Static or dynamic? Abort or recover? How do we make these decisions? If it’s something we recognize as being important, we might ask. The rest, we guess. And all that guessing builds up a kind of debt in our applications — an interconnected web of assumptions.

As a developer, I hate this. The knowledge of all these small-scale timebombs in the applications I write adds to my stress. Open Source developers, scratching their own itches, don’t suffer this. Because they are their own users, they know the correct answers to 90% of the decisions they have to make. I think this is one of the reasons folks come home after a hard day of coding and then work on open source: It’s relaxing.

—Dave Thomas, The Pragmatic Programmers


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