The impending asymptotic growth of developer productivity

14 Dec 2016

Uncle Bob lamented this summer that developer productivty is having a logarithmic growth rate. The newest laguages and frameworks have only given diminishing returns.

I don’t agree. LLVM and Roslyn are game changers. Many developers are going to be automated out of a job. High level language programming is no longer a manual task.

Compilers to this point have been transformations from high level languages to lower level targets. C++ -> (LLVM/MSIL) -> Assemlber

LLVM and Roslyn are changing that. Compilers now transform high level languages into high level language targets.

clang-format is an eye opener for the OCD. Run it upon checkin and you can write code in your prefered format. Don’t like the project’s formatting? Use clang-format on checkout so those curly braces are on the line you want.

Need to flatten a multiple inheritence tangled C++ class into a static file so you can remove cruft? LLVM script.

Want to annotate all calls to the operating system for logging/refactoring? LLVM script.

Translating an old VB6 code to .Net core? Roslyn script.

Generating unit tests for a method? LLVM + SMT solver script.

Want to compress programs like zip files? LLVM script.

Want to write Javascript in C++? LLVM script.

For the most part there are two universal programming domains. POSIX and HTTP.

HTTP needs some love, but with automated formatting you could write a program in Visual Basic Core and have it compile to elegant Swift.

If you want elegant compiler output you are going to have to restrain yourself to clean code. More pure functions, less nested loops with side effects. Automatic variable naming will become a bustling machine learning exercise. Expressive use of the type system so appropriate nouns are given to variables and appropriate verbs are given to functions.

Here is to linear if not superlinear growth of developer productivity in 2017!