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Banal Configuration Languages

by jdporter (Canon)
on Feb 26, 2021 at 19:10 UTC ( #11128859=perlmeditation: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

This is so great, I have to share it here. This guy nails it on the head. (Spring, we're looking at you.)

I suspect a lot of abuse of config files comes from moving logic out of source code for bad reasons. There are good reasons for not hard-coding, say, ports and service endpoints in your source code, because it makes it easier to run the code in different environments. However, there are also bad reasons for taking things out of code. A couple that I have encountered:

Pride in creating a "generic" system that can be configured to do all kinds of new things "without touching the code." Reality check: only one or two programmers understand how to modify the config file, and changes have to go through the same life cycle as a code change, so you haven't gained anything. You've only made it harder to onboard new programmers to the project.

Hope that if certain logic is encoded in config files, then it can never get complicated. Reality check: product requirements do not magically become simpler because of your implementation decisions. The config file will become as expressive as necessary to fulfill the requirements, and the code to translate the config file into runtime behavior will become much more complex than if you had coded the logic directly.

Hope that you can get non-programmers to code review your business logic. Reality check: the DSL you embedded in your config file isn't as "human readable" as you think it is. Also, they're not going to sign up for a Github account and learn how to review a PR so they can do your job for you.

Marketing your product as a "no code" solution. Reality check: none for you; this is great! Your customers, on the other hand, are going to find out that "no code" means "coding in something that was never meant to be a programming language."

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