Friday, July 1, 2011

Please, no more Manifestos

For some reason, people involved in software development have a thing for Manifestos (always with a Capital M). It all started with the Agile Manifesto. Then came the Software Craftsmanship Manifesto, signed by serious programmers big and small, except ironically the original author of Software Craftsmanship.

Then there have been other, less practical and less successful manifestos, like the Rugged Software Manifesto which as I have explained before was proclaimed with the naïve understanding that reciting feel-good phrases will somehow make developers write better software.
“I am rugged…”
And the even-less-practical but much-more fun-to-read manifesto for truly hard-core programmers (there really is no problem that you can’t program your way out of) and of course the cynical Half-Arsed Agile Manifesto.

What brought this all up is that some people involved in DevOps still feel incomplete without a Manifesto of their very own.

This is a shame, because I like following what’s happening in DevOps and learning from the best (and worst) of it, and I want them to keep doing what they’re doing.

I don’t see the point in manifestos. They don’t move me or change the way that I think or work. I can get through each day without having to refer to a manifesto. I want tools and concrete ideas that I can use to get things done, to do a better job. Not motherhood or bullshit. Patterns and anti-patterns and recipes and best practices (and worst practices) – these are useful. But Manifestos? Useless, or at their worst, dangerous:
Workers of the world unite….
Look how that one worked out.

Manifestos s are a way to keep people from thinking and asking questions.
Oh no, people have more than one way of thinking about a problem, or what something means!
This is not a bad thing. This is a GOOD THING! This is how we move forward, this is how we get better. What we’re doing isn’t simple, or right, or wrong, so let’s stop pretending.

Or maybe Andrew Shafer is right
A manifesto, by definition, is essentially a marketing document.
“Re: Time for a DevOps Manifesto?”
Either way, we don’t need more manifestos. What we need is people to keep thinking and asking questions, and getting things done.


Anonymous said...

Agilish propaganda in delivery, OMG Nooooo.
I like the fundamental, driving ideas behind agile methods and DevOps, but we have to admit that most developers use these as excuses for working in a completely chaotic and uncontrolled (ie artistic) way so that they can spend their whole time "writing" code (working on their masterpiece) and not bothering with any other task normally required by interaction of their work in a more global organization/project. IE what only matters is the code, and managers/project managers and those pesky gys from delivery don't understand anything and are only parasites slowing things down. "What maintainability problem? Not caused by lack of rigour, but because the code that guy wrote is crap and anyway I was going to recode everything in my own way because I know much better".

A DevOps manifesto (at least how it looks like in the provided link)will only help such developers push their chaos-based religion a little bit more into delivery so that they can spend still less time bothering with managing proper releases.

Perhaps a good DevOps manifesto could be "I have spent 3 years in development and 3 years in delivery, so I understand difficulties on both sides." or "I refuse to write stupid manifestos as excuses for my beeing lazy come to rigour and interaction with other stakeholders" (note BTW this also applies to delivery in relation to clients).

Andy Czerwonka said...

Great post Jim.

John Wilander said...

Could we somehow rephrase this into a "No More Manifestos Manifesto"?

Or wait ...

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