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The compulsive nature of programming has long been recognized. It is not, however, the addicts that are the problem; it is the less extreme manifestations in virtually all programmers that undermine proper IT system design and development. The majority of these afflicted persons are not building IT systems from scratch; they are maintaining existent systems – a distinction that severely aggravates all the existing difficulties. Effective maintenance is based on program understanding and this is facilitated by well-structured systems, and support from software tools, such as editors. One of the reasons for the prevalence of maintenance is that IT systems represent too big a commitment to organizational infrastructure to abandon, so they are maintained well beyond their proper life span. These long-used IT systems, termed legacy systems, introduce further difficulties, such as (apparently) dead code. Even with a large IT system to be constructed from scratch, the model programmer will eventually be drawn into grappling with an unmanageable system. The essential difference between the happy hacker and the sober and well-disciplined programmer is the speed with which an IT system becomes unmanageable, and the extent of the chaos generated (which is often manifest in an excessive need for testing and debugging).
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