First you make it, then you figure it out

This last week I was faced with a problem in computer graphics, and I did something I often do. I jumped in and started hacking until I got something that worked.

The problem was, I couldn’t really figure out why or how it worked. So then the real work began.

Over the course of the next several days I sautéed and sautéed, transforming the code piece by piece, breaking things down into properly named methods, trying to turn it into something that would explain itself.

After a few days I finally ended up with something that not only worked, but that another programmer could pick up and read and understand. In the scheme of things, this is much more valuable than what I had originally, because now it can also be used by other people to do other things.

I can’t say whether this approach is good. It’s not clear whether I would have gotten the thing working had I approached it more methodically.

I suppose I should be grateful that the process works, as messy as it is. I wonder whether other people trying to make things have similar experiences.

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