Checking for Syntax Errors

Dec 3rd, 2002 by Tony in Questioning XP

Traditional software engineering was founded in an era when computers were fantastically expensive and the turnaround on the batch compilation of programs was very slow. Veterans of that era often joke that you could get fired for needing too many compilation runs to get a program working. Even into the middle 1980s, large programs could take several hours to compile. Small wonder programmers got really good at desk checking programs for errors before submitting the code to the compiler.

During the last few years things have changed. Computing power is so cheap that most programs can be recompiled in a few seconds, and it is rare for even large applications to take more than ten minutes to build. Hence, time spent desk checking for syntax errors is now wasted time, because the compiler will find all problems in a few seconds and position the cursor for the programmer to fix the offending line. It is now more effective to let the computer do the work.

— Pete McBreen, Questioning Extreme Programming, Chapter 12

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