I know that Matt is familiar with Joel’s thoughts about code refactoring. The link below is to one of Joel’s articles about how Netscape blew years when they decided to rewrite their codebase from scratch. The WordPress team is taking exactly the right approach — make incremental fixes that don’t break past investments by users and developers while making big improvements. Thanks to Matt and the rest of the WordPress team for doing an outstanding job. 🙂
A few comments about some of the code changes in 1.3. Very nice to see people appreciating some of the hard work weâ€™ve put into this iteration. In a perfect world we could stop the clock and rewrite large portions of the code from scratch, but that would take a long time and break a lot of things in the process. All programmers want to do this, itâ€™s our weakness, but every time I get this urge I think of Netscape and how devastating their rewrite downtime was. Weâ€™re making some substantial changes but doing it gradually while introducing new features and responding to users needs.
Things You Should Never Do, Part I
By Joel Spolsky
Thursday, April 06, 2000
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Netscape 6.0 is finally going into its first public beta. There never was a version 5.0. The last major release, version 4.0, was released almost three years ago. Three years is an awfully long time in the Internet world. During this time, Netscape sat by, helplessly, as their market share plummeted.
It’s a bit smarmy of me to criticize them for waiting so long between releases. They didn’t do it on purpose, now, did they?
Well, yes. They did. They did it by making the single worst strategic mistake that any software company can make:
They decided to rewrite the code from scratch.
You should read the entire Joel on Software article. It has a nugget of wisdom that should not be ignored. 🙂 🙂 🙂