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Technical debt - was Re: datetime seems to be broken WRT timezones (even when you add them)


On Wed, Feb 12, 2020 at 07:09:12AM +1100, Chris Angelico wrote:
> On Wed, Feb 12, 2020 at 7:03 AM Michael Torrie <torriem at gmail.com> wrote:
> > Speaking about technical debt is certainly fashionable these days.  As
> > if we've somehow discovered a brand new way of looking at things.  But
> > it doesn't matter what you do, there's always real cost, and therefore
> > always technical debt. Moving to Python 3 incurs technical debt.
> > Staying with Python 2 incurs technical debt.  Thus I wonder if the term
> > is actually that useful.
[...]
> What you're talking about is costs in general, but "debt" is a very
> specific term. You accrue technical debt whenever you "borrow" time
> from the future - doing something that's less effort now at the
> expense of being worse in the future.

In pretty much every job I've ever worked at, funding work (e.g. with
humans to do it) with exactly and precisely the resources required is
basically impossible, and management prefers to underfund the work
than to overfund it, for cost-savings reasons.  This basically means
that any non-trivial work you do inevitably will become technical debt
IMMEDIATELY, because you will not be given the time to do the job
completely in the first place, there will inevitably be bugs which are
minor enough to ignore indefinitely, and most likely, in order to meet
arbitrary-but-nevertheless-real time constraints you will find
yourself obliged to take shortcuts.  So conceptually "costs" may be
different from "debt" but in practice, you never have one without the
other, and "debt" is really just "costs" you haven't paid yet.  

If your hypothetical project was implemented perfectly from the
beginning, in Python2.x, it may never need updating, and therefore
there may well never be any reason to port it to python3.  So doing so
would be neither "debt" nor "cost" but rather "waste."