The Joy of Finding Your Code in Unexpected Places
Oct 8, 2009 / By Yanick Champoux
Hey, that one in the sixth row…
Doesn’t he looks familiar?
So there I am, on my morning bus ride, reading my copy of The Definitive Guide to Catalyst (keep your eyes peeled for the upcoming review of the book in the Perl Review).
I’m near the end, in Chapter 11, Catalyst Cookbook. As it is with most tech books, the last chapters are the most engrossing, as the gloves finally come of and the writers throw at you all the wonderful, mind-bending stuff that the rest of the book prepares you for.
The section I’m at is about the development process. Specifically, it shows how you can put hooks in your versioning system to automatically screen commits to conform to Perl::Critic and Perl::Tidy policies. The given example script uses Git, which is just dandy with me as it is my current VCS of choice. But there’s something . . . funny about that script. The way the utility functions are stashed at the end after a
### utility functions ##############################
line. The choice of variable names. The comments. It all feels oddly familiar. And then my eyes fall on the line
exit 0 unless @dirty; # Alles gut
and everything falls into place. The script in the book is a wee bit different and has been improved upon, but its origin is unmistakable. Somehow, unexpectedly, a hack of mine found its way into publication. Fame, glory, and page 293 of the Catalyst book, I can finally claim ‘em all as rightfully mine!
But, serendipitous glee aside, three important lessons lie in this little story.
1. Blog posts, great and small, the Perl Gestalt, it reads them all
All clever tricks, code snippets, and insights you come up with? Blog ‘em. Even if you think they are only an itsy widdly little bit clever. Chances are, if there is a spark in there, it’ll ignite the mind of someone insaner than you are and ultimately result in something awe-inspiring. Or, more importantly, something awe-inspiring for which you’ll have bragging rights.
And don’t despair if your blog entries mostly go without comments. Provided that you are broadcast by an aggregator or two, people will read you. Silently, furtively, your thoughts will slip in the Perl subconscious like so many pumpkin seeds into autumn soil.
2. Code carries your DNA
No big discovery here, but it’s interesting to see how surprisingly easy it is to recognize one’s own code. One would think that nothing looks more like a line of code than another line of code, the same way nothing looks more like a baby emperor penguin than another one.
Yet, we do recognize ours by a curve of the beak, a specific timbre of the voice. Admittedly, Perl’s flexibility provides much more latitude for transposing our idiosyncrasies unto our digital babies. But then again, isn’t why a lot of us love Perl so much?
3. Some of my code made it into a Catalyst book!
I mean, seriously, how terminally cool is that?!