The thread of discussion started by Mike Spille’s comments on Rob Martin’s entry got me thinking.
"You Aren’t Gonna Need It" is not only a stupid statement, it’s also incredibly arrogant. It takes some guts to listen to a suggestion and without even thinking about it, trying to understand what motivated it or even, heaven forbid, doing some research, retort "You aren’t gonna need it".
If my past experiences have taught me anything about the evolution of software, it’s "It Ain’t Predictible", or IAP (I’ve always wanted to dub a three-letter acronym, and it looks like your chances of coining such a term are largely increased if you use street-speak, so here is my contribution).
Seriously, it’s just mind-boggling what users will sometimes do with software you put out there. They will twist it in forms you would never have imagined in your wildest dreams, ask for improvements, discover bugs on corner cases you didn’t even think were possible.
Now that I am reminiscing, I actually remember vividly that about fifteen years ago, I faced this very problem when I was using a C++ library that wouldn’t let me override what I needed. I just ended up downloading the source and replacing a few "private" with "public". Little did I know I had just uncovered the IAP principle.
I don’t know, maybe Rob and I have different ways of solving problems, but we certainly have a different view on teaching. If a student comes to me and shows me a design that I consider superfluous, I am not going to say "You aren’t gonna need it", but more something like "Okay, we could sit down after class and you could give me a few examples where your design will be better suited than the simpler one I recommend, but right now, I would suggest you focus on the task at hand so that you can fulfill the number one task that as a software developer, you will be facing at every step of your whole career: deliver your code on time."