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Eat the Mangoes

© September 2009 Girish Venkatachalam
by Girish Venkatachalam

Girish Venkatachalam is a UNIX hacker with more than a decade of networking and crypto programming experience. His hobbies include yoga,cycling, cooking and he runs his own business. Details here:


Mango is a delicious fruit. You will know how it tastes only when you eat it.

You will see that I am not meandering. What I say is very much to the point. Long ago there were a bunch of "scientists" who were doing research on mangoes. They measured the length of mango twigs, they measured the angle of shadows created by mango trees, they looked the soil and conditions for growth of mango trees. They were doing a PhD dissertation on the wonderful fruit.

When all this was going on, a guy came and simply started eating the mangoes. The researchers wondered what this guy was up to. Only when the guy told these scientists that the mango tasted very good these scientists tasted the fruit.

Why am I saying all this? What is the analogy?

I should mention this famous OpenBSD statement. It is attributed to OpenBSD devs, but I have no idea who came up with this. It goes like this.

Shut up and code.

What is the use discussing the design and making long architecture documents? All it takes is working code! Nothing else matters when the code does its job!

We should taste the mangoes. Mango is a fresh luscious fruit, very sweet and delicious. Another great analogy is this. An ass that carries a sac of sugar on its back does not know the taste of sugar. It does not even know that it is carrying such a sweet substance in its back.

Similarly we waste a lot of time talking, arguing, researching when we should be doing coding. We should validate our design idea with simple prototype code. Companies that get this aspect right get everything else right in due course.

I understand that complex projects need a lot of discussions and design before execution. I don't disagree at all. But should we be spending time talking or doing?

We should taste the mango. If the mango tastes good, then everything else must have been good automatically. There is no need to look into the details when the end result meets our expectations.

Another interesting quote is this. I like this one. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Everything else becomes irrelevant the moment you have working code that is stable and does its job.

Let us eat the mangoes. And leave others to do the research.

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More Articles by © Girish Venkatachalam

Wed Sep 9 10:55:14 2009: 6880   TonyLawrence

There are detail people, and grand overview people. The world needs both, but these two types can really tick each other off.

Fri Sep 11 06:10:50 2009: 6885   MichielOvertoom

Joel Spolsky names them 'Architecture Astronauts'; see (link)

On the other end, if you want to add a certain feature to Python, it's not enough to just come up with the idea. You have to give an implementation, too.

Tue Sep 29 05:48:07 2009: 7003   Arun

Nice article.
But nature has an advantage - Time. The mango probably became as delicious as it is today in a million years. Evolution. We don't!

Tue Sep 29 12:32:37 2009: 7006   TonyLawrence

Well, we've had half a million years of evolution - and have come a bit farther than mangoes :-)


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