As anyone who follows me on social media is no doubt aware, I own a classic car. Maybe. Nobody seems to agree on exactly what constitutes a classic. Old is the key characteristic — over 20 years and it qualifies for classic insurance. Aside from that, the requirements are very wide and subjective, such as “interesting” and “collectable” and “worth preserving”. Classic is very much in the eye of the beholder it appears.
Mine is a 1989 Toyota MR2 AW11 T-Bar. It looks good from this angle as you can’t see the paint peeling on the front skirt or the rust bubbles that are starting to appear on the rear wheel arches. Some parts aren’t easy to come by either — particularly interior items, which I typically buy from someone scrapping one on Ebay.
This got me thinking about code — it doesn’t take much:
- Will we treasure code from decades ago purely based on it’s age and whether we subjectively find it “interesting”.
- Will middle-aged Englishmen with pipes and tweed jackets keep old PCs under covers in their garage, firing them up on sunny days for a spin round the neighbourhood?
- Will classic code clubs spring up, meeting in pubs every Thursday night to debate the merits of various Perl CGI scripts?
- Will Concours d’Elégance competitions be staged in the grounds of stately homes, showcasing listings of Pascal and Coral66 programs produced (of course) on a dot-matrix printer?
- Will Classic Code collectors need access to highly skilled code restorers, able to track down original Bourne shell scripts typed on an IBM minicomputer running AIX1.0 and copy paste sections of these to patch up an old automation system found in a barn in rural Norfolk?
- Will there be an equivalent of the London to Brighton run, where old web server code is dusted down and put back online for it’s annual outing, only to fail after a couple of hours once the load gets up to 5 concurrent users.
The answer to all of these questions is, of course, no. Code will kick around for many years after it has ceased to be useful, or indeed used at all, on sites like Github, but it will long be forgotten about.
Important code from a historical perspective is preserved, and in some cases, such as the Apollo 11 source code, available in a git repository that you can clone.
Apollo-11 - Original Apollo 11 Guidance Computer (AGC) source code for the command and lunar modules.
As for the rest of it, that will eventually die when the storage medium fails and nobody will mourn it. Apart from code in your Salesforce Developer Edition. That will live forever, as a constant reminder of how little you knew and how little the platform did for you when you started out. And your blog, although that will resemble an auto-jumble stand comprised of boxes and boxes of snippets that were useful 20 years before.
I’m better known in the Salesforce community as Bob Buzzard — Umpteen Certifications, including Technical Architect, 6 x MVP and CTO of BrightGen, a Platinum Cloud Alliance Partner in the United Kingdom who are hiring.
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You can find my (usually) more technical thoughts at the Bob Buzzard Blog