Stop Shakespearizing

Only you are responsible for your project.

“Genius is always sufficiently the enemy of genius by over-influence. The literature of every nation bear me witness. The English dramatic poets have Shakespearized now for two hundred years.”

 Self-Reliance and Other Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson

It seems to me that the software engineering world has mimicked Big Tech for at least two decades now. Much like Shakespearizing has been harmful to the creativity of the English poets, blind worship of the solutions and frameworks developed at Big Tech companies is detrimental to the creativity of the software industry.

When setting up a monorepo for my project, I used make to orchestrate the builds of various components and their dependencies. An argument I heard was that with my setup, I reinvented Lerna, and that Reactby Facebook uses Lerna, and since Meta engineers are among the Shakespeares of our field, we ought to respect their choices and do the same.

As an architect, I have an aversion to tools that are specifically designed for a particular platform. Lerna is a JavaScript-specific tool, as are TurboRepo and Nx. My project, however, is multilingual (Go, JavaScript, Java, and Python).

Even if my project was not presently multilingual, one day, it might. Where are Delphi and all of the Delphi developers now? What about COBOL developers? I happen to have a long list of open source frameworks and toolchains that I was once forced to use because they were the hot topics of their day, and later those frameworks were abandoned.

But… but… thousands of teams worldwide use Lerna! We stand on the shoulders of giants; we should use the tools they use!

“Meek young men grow up in libraries, believing it their duty to accept the views which Cicero, which Locke, which Bacon, have given; forgetful that Cicero, Locke and Bacon were only young men in libraries when they wrote these books.”

 Self-Reliance and Other Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Developers who create open source frameworks or write articles like yours truly aren’t giants. They are just like us. They build something that solves a problem they face and share it with the community. They don’t know you, your project, or your problems.

They have no obligation to you at all. Open-source authors are not obligated to maintain their free (as in price) contribution to humanity. They are not entitled to evolve their toolchain in lock-step with your project.

I am not saying one shouldn’t use open source projects, as I have been a huge proponent of open source. If you want to find my open source credentials and loyalties, I am a founder of Clarkson University Linux Users Group. If I have to pick a proprietary commercial product versus open source, I will take open source any day.

I am not saying I don’t respect what developers at Big Tech companies do. It is always interesting to learn what other engineers do and how they solve their problems that might be similar to mine. Their challenges, though, are theirs — not yours.

Ultimately, you must know your project, your needs, yourself, your skills, and your team. Only you are responsible for your project. So trust your instincts, fellow architect, and don’t Shakespearize 🙂

What I’ve been reading

I’m always reading interesting things, and I thought it would be fun to append a list of things I’ve been reading lately to each blog post. 

  • I am not sure why I haven’t noticed this over the past five years of using Go, but it turns out Go code can be compiled to WebAssembly : Link
  • Given the proliferation of cloud services and serverless compute infrastructure, it is becoming increasingly difficult to replicate a cloud environment on one’s localhost. I think ultimately localhost isn’t going anywhere — but we will live in a kind of a hybrid world : Link
  • Using make with Node.js to create AWS Lambda functions : Link
  • If true, at $3195 the Peloton rowing machine will be a flop : Link
  • John Foley should have left Peloton in 2019 right when the company went public : Link
  • Some people do Wordle puzzles first thing in the morning. I put together little logical puzzles for myself based on the news I read and evaluate them using Prolog : Link
  • Written by a Clarkson classmate of mine, “Quantum Computing Since Democritus” book is a gentle introduction to Quantum Computing. It’s not quite popular science – more like a friend in theoretical computer science explaining his work to a practitioner like me. Highly recommend : Link
  • Lerna is officially dead (2020): Link
  • Lerna stewardship is transferred to Nrwl (2022) : Link