In the newest Masters Interview on RailsLab, Ward Cunningham of AboutUs.org shares his thoughts on Ruby, Agile development, and why craftsmanship needs to be part of the equation. The session begins with a brief comparison of SmallTalk and Ruby and the importance of ensuring that Ruby doesn’t follow the path of SmallTalk. A firm proponent of Ruby, Ward observes that one of its benefits is that the compiler doesn’t necessarily have to understand the program to execute it. That has advantages and disadvantages–you get your code running faster, but you may sacrifice a true understanding of the code base. For larger code bases, or more specifically, for the code bases that you plan to keep for a very long time, Ward stresses that its absolutely necessary for developers to fully understand their code. And this is where best practices by themselves–extreme programming, test driven-development, refactoring processes–are essential but are not enough by themselves. Programmers must develop mastery over their code and the techniques they use to create it.
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