|P is for Practical|
"Magic tools" that take the fun awayby hrcerq (Scribe)
|on Apr 08, 2021 at 20:18 UTC||Need Help??|
One of the (often overlooked) benefits of computer programming is that it can be fun. But Knuth goes beyond that stating that it should be fun and that a program should be beautiful. Fun and beauty add a lot of value to the program and to programming.
Now, at the same time, observing the IT industry as whole, we can see how much the fun and beauty of programming are being overlooked. More and more "magic tools" are making way to sysadmin jobs, and they're focused on people who don't want to program. IT managers often see them as a means "not to depend too much on programmers". It's laughable, but I've seen it a lot.
One example of such tools are the configuration management tools, such as Ansible, Puppet, Chef and similar tools, which take a more declarative approach to systems management. I'm not saying these tools aren't useful (or even that they are necessarily bad), but I feel like they've taken a lot of the fun away from systems management.
This is not to mention GUI-only tools, which are mostly closed-source. Fortunately I've been far from them. But currently at my job, I help maintain some Ansible routines, and sometimes it's a daunting task. I can't remember how many times I had to grep a repository to find out when some variable was being set. If a declarative approach should be friendly, then I must say it has failed in my case, because the repository I work with has grown into a messy beast (I'm sure my co-workers agree).
Yet, I remember once I've put a perl one-line command in a playbook and was critized precisely for this action. I was told it would bring complexity and that other people would have difficulty maintaining perl code. Can you believe it? A one-line! I'd say it's a joke if someone else told me.
Of course, I wouldn't give up on Perl because of that. But it makes me wonder why must we always prove something that exists for decades is worthy a try, while something created a few years ago is promptly accepted. Of course, it's just my point of view, which not necessarily happens everywhere. Other points of view would be much appreciated.