We all know that guy. You know, that guy who sees performance improvements everywhere, all the time?
That programmer who squeezes everything into bitmaps because « it’s so much faster » ? And when I say everything, I mean everything! Even if your class only has one flag!
That guy who caches everything in the application because « that’s the optimal way to do it« ? Even if the data that is cached is just accessed only one time?
That guy who fits a date into an integer in the database because « it’s so much more compact » ? There goes all your SQL and date functions!
That developer who always ends up re-implementing another sorting algorithm because he read a « great paper » on the subject and « it’s proven that it’s 0.2% faster than the default sort » available? And after an insane debugging session, you finally realize he has overriden SortedCollection>>#sort: ? And that his code just doesn’t work properly!
You know, that guy with a C/C++ background who spends countless hours optimizing everything not realizing he has to « make it work » first! You know, that guy who still doesn’t get that often times you only need to optimize very small parts of an application to make a real difference?
You know that guy with strange concepts such as « defensive programming » who tells you nobody ever caught a bug in his code in production? You know, that guy who came up with the « clever » catch-everything method #ifTrue:ifFalse:ifNil:onError:otherwise: ?
You know that guy who never works for more than 4 months at the same place because « they didn’t get it, they’re a bunch of morons » ?
You know, that guy who prefers to implement complex database queries with a #do: loop and a gazillion SELECT statement because « SELECT statements with a 1-row lookup are very optimized by the database server » instead of using JOINs. And then he blames the slow response time of his « highly optimized » data retrieval code on the incompetence of the DBAs maintaining the database?
You know, that guy who once told me « inheritance in Smalltalk is very bad because the deeper the class in the hierarchy, the slower the method lookup is going to be » so that’s why he always preferred « flattened hierarchies » (meaning promoting ALL instance variables into one root class) with 2-3 levels deep in the worst case? « Besides, my code is easier to understand and debug since everything is in one place« .
Well, I was going through some of the sh*ttiest code I’ve seen in a long time last night and I remembered that guy and his ideas about « highly optimized flattened hierarchies » and thought I’d measure his theory! Here’s the script.
Basically, it creates a hierarchy of classes (10000 subclasses) and times message sends from the top class and the bottom class to measure the difference.
Well, that guy was right… There’s a 1 millisecond difference over 9 million message sends from the root class as compared to the 10000th class at the bottom of the hierarchy.
I wanted to tell that guy he was right but his email address at work is probably no longer valid…
CAVEAT: Make sure you do not have a category with the same name as the one in the script because the script removes the category at the end (and all classes in it!). Also, be warned it takes a very very very long time to execute!
P.S. All the stories above are real. No f*cking kidding! Those guys really existed : I’ve worked with them!