The Complexity Pig

Thursday, March 26, 2009 – 10:44 PM

pig_mud Once upon a time in a land not so far away a programmer was taking an afternoon walk. She was taking a few moments away from her desk to ponder a thorny refactoring problem. As she wondered down the path through the woods thinking about a possibly simpler design her thoughts were interrupted by an odd grunting noise coming from a large hole on the left of the path.

Being the helpful sort, and thinking maybe someone had taken a fall, the programmer wondered over to the hole to see if she could help. She peered in and discovered that it’s only occupant was a small pig rooting around in six inches of water at the bottom of the pit.

“Hum…,” said the programmer, “I wonder how he got down there?”

Much to her surprise the pig looked up at her and responded, “Oh, this is my hole. I dug the entire thing myself.”

The pig looked oddly pleased with himself. If pigs could smirk, then that pig is definitely smirking, thought the programmer as she mustered up the willpower to not look surprised at meeting a talking pig.

“Very impressive, how long did it take you to dig down ten feet?”

“Ten feed and nine inches,” the pig corrected her, “I’m on my sixth release.”

“Even better I suppose,” replied the programmer, “It looks like pretty hard work, what with all that mud and water.”

“Well yes. It’s gotten a lot harder as it’s gotten messier down here. Figuring out the next bit of digging is harder now that I can’t really see what I’m doing… But that just makes it more fun. I mean if it were easy it wouldn’t be any fun! I love all this messy complex stuff!” The pig smirked again.

“Ahh, I see so all that sticky mud and water is a good thing? Doesn’t it make the work slower?”

The pig looked a little confused and paused before replying, “A bit maybe, sort of. But the people I’m digging my hole for have been OK with it so far. I mean we’re on version six and they haven’t quit.”

“Maybe if you dug a nice clean hole with no water at the bottom if it you could dig faster and your customers would like it more?”

The pig and the programmer stared at each other in the awkward silence that followed. Finally the programmer said, “My look at the time, I really must get back.” and wondered back to her desk and refactoring.

Every few weeks after that the programmer would take one of her simplification walks – as she called them. Often she’d hear the pig slowly digging away at his hole. Until one day she realized she hadn’t heard the pig for a while.

The pig had drowned.

  1. 6 Responses to “The Complexity Pig”

  2. Very good story. This is something I’ll refer to when people are making a mess.

    By Andries on Mar 27, 2009

  3. good analogy. “The pig had drowned.” Yup been there.

    By Dan S on Mar 27, 2009

  4. What a sad story.

    By Jef claes on Apr 3, 2009

  5. You almost made it to a bedtime story, but the resolution turned out non-conducive to sound sleep… However, I still think development folks need to listen to something like that once in a while. Insomnia can be very constructive, you know.

    By The Flex Gal on Apr 16, 2009

  6. It’s a fairy tail. A la the (original) Brothers Grimm.


    By Ade Miller on Apr 16, 2009

  7. That was great! Hey I liked your MSBuild blog post too, I am planning to use that technique. Have fun in the mountains!

    By Michael Stanton on Apr 24, 2009

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