Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good enough

Friday, March 19, 2010
By Suki
Rasmus Lerdorf

Rasmus Lerdof, Creator of PHP, (image taken with a camera phone on March 18, 2010)

“There are only two kinds of languages: the ones people complain about and the ones nobody uses” -Bjarne Stroustrup.

It struck me today that the good thing about working in tech is that most of the ‘greats’ are still alive. And sometimes, if you’re lucky, you even get to hear some of them speak at a university near you.

Today I had the opportunity to listen to Rasmus Lerdorf, known as the original author of the PHP scripting language. Lerdorf was the guest speaker at the monthly meeting of the Florida Linux User Exchange Group also known as FLUX. My husband and our friends were on their way to listen to him after a great meal at the Udipi Café in Sunrise and I decided to tag along at the last minute.

Now, I’m not a developer, so most of the ‘code stuff’ about security and increasing performance flew right over my head

What struck me most though, was Lerdorf’s philosophical leanings, over and above his obvious skill for programming.

My friend Nazly with Rasmu Lerdorf in Sri Lanka at FOSSSL (2005)

PHP is the foundation on which thousands of websites are built today which is astounding when you realize that Lerdorf is just 41. It is the language that one of my own websites was built in and is used by some of the “big sites” on the internet including Yahoo and Facebook. I know of many programmers in Sri Lanka who see him as a celebrity because of his contributions to the open source software movement.

Lerdorf acknowleged that PHP isn’t very pretty and that “real” computer science folks don’t like PHP. He likened PHP to the English language (which is actually his third language – his first is Danish) and explained that while it is very difficult to speak perfect English it is entirely possible to communicate an idea adequately in it – a fact which made the multilingual but nevertheless self-critical blogger inside of me feel vindicated!

So again I say to myself, for the fourth time this month “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good enough.”

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