Engineering, seen by a newcomer

In three months, I will be a web engineer…

Public domain — Source

After decades of computer science advances, we still have hurdles to overcome to make the field move forward. The future for engineers has never been so bright but not so fast: it is not always what you might expect.

The web is quite a recent newcomer in the history of programming. So much that the state of the art evolves quickly and in a breaking fashion. Unfortunately, this means most applications are not compliant with the latest trends. Then comes the lack of performance and quality… you know the story.

A key issue today is legacy systems. Legacy is everywhere. It is improbable to work for a big company that has an application with no legacy, monolith or spaghetti code, you name it. You know what it means: you might end up improving or increasing legacy code.

Is legacy a bad thing? Not always. When it is under control and well documented, you can get around it. Sometimes, there is a need for a hack to avoid an edge case. That said, keeping things under control is not an easy task.

Did I really sign up for this?

It is natural to prefer creating core functionalities in order to speed up product development during the early stages of a digital company. It is when you support a consequent user base that you start wondering about the stability of the product. Too late, legacy has been there the whole time, lurking in the dark. Remember that piece of code you wrote “just in case”? It is now striking back with bugs.

Thousands of new developers wrap their heads around the inner workings of legacy with several techniques. Iterating by scratching the surface and dividing it into services, updating to the latest trends, refreshing the technologies, writing tests to track and eliminate dead code, etc.

Today, we have both the first generation who made the web what it is and the new one which will focus on making it even greater by finding new ways to present contents. Working together is important. Which bring us to another point: ethics.

What about ethics?

Disclaimer: I am terribly sorry if I hurt you in any way. This is not the intention and I have so much to learn so please, don’t feel offended.

Many things are changing around us and this one is essential. This is also the biggest issue I am currently facing: how to handle ethics in our daily routine?

Testimonies of groups or persons feeling discriminated can be found everywhere around us. You can yourself discriminate without even noticing it by how you act unintentionally. It is hard to find a precise person to blame, though. I grew up thinking there were only men and women, people from different and hermetic backgrounds and ethnicity. This is of course far from reality.

We must not categorize anyone, even if the gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religious or political beliefs or any other characteristic is evident. This is an insanely difficult task as it requires to question the way we think. To reduce cognitive load, it is common to simplify and classify. This is a bad but necessary habit that we have to somehow get rid of.

Conclusion

Of course, the unimaginative conclusion could be that we need to rethink our inner workings so that everything goes smooth between systems and between humans. Instead, I would like you to react and tell how you feel about the future and engineering.

I would like to thank everyone who helped me with my first public blog post. Especially Louise Mouret, who is on a path of wisdom even though they are younger than me.

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