Friday, March 30, 2007

Efficient frameworks

Using complex frameworks are often motivated by increased efficiency. Some things are however inevitably complex.

Real time thread synchronization across processes and machines is for example hard. You have to avoid dead locks, make sure that your processes yields execute threads in a predictable manner and guarantees execution of all tasks on a given time. Getting all this correct is not easy, not even for experienced developers.

Frameworks are motivated that they make hard things more simple. A common problem is however that they only enable you to shoot yourself in the foot more efficiently, which is most often not what you intended to start with. In order to utilize the framework efficiently you need a thorough understanding of the underlying problem domain and also be able to solve the problem in terms compatible with the tools and possibilities the framework gives you.

Most frameworks are not developed with your problem in mind and general purpose frameworks are most often too generic to be useful. If your need exceed what is intended with the framework of choice, you end up adding more complexity than you would need without the framework.

Complex tings can be made to work, no doubt. For one time fixes, in order to get something working in a quick and dirty fashion the additional complexity does not matter very much.It is just a one time penalty to pay. The trouble starts when modifications are needed, since somebody must either remember or figure out how it works, probably from the source code, which may or may not conform to any pattern or convention.

People in general tend to fall in love with their framework of choice, If the framework suits your every need, there is a benefit if all developers on the project like working with the framework. However, if the framework does not fit the problem you are going to have a tough time ahead.

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