„What we can learn from “_why”, the long lost open source developer”

„What we can learn from “_why”, the long lost open source developer”

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Priča o programeru poznatom pod pseudonimom „_why the lucky stiff” koji je početkom 2000-ih godina bio poznat i uticajan. Pomogao je u popularizaciji programskog jezika Ruby, bio je pionir u novim načinima izgradnje veb aplikacija i inspirisao bezbroj ljudi da nauče programiranje. Njegova knjiga Why’s (Poignant) Guide to Ruby, u koju je uneo svoj ekscentrični humor i smisao za avanturu kroz stripove o lisici ili vilenjaku i šunki i danas predstavlja jedan od važnijih priručnika za programere. Nekoliko godina izgledalo je kao da je _why svuda: blogovi, mejling liste, Twitter, GitHub i konferencije, a onda je 19. avgusta 2009. godine nestao. Obrisao je svoju veb stranicu, profile na društvenim medijima i svoj GitHub nalog zajedno sa svim projektima koje je stvorio. Ali, kako se navodi, uticaj ovog programera je otišao mnogo dalje od koda koji je napisao.

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Microframeworks

Though the Ruby on Rails framework was nearly synonymous with the Ruby programming language in the mid-to-late 00s, _why wasn't a big user of Rails. Instead, he built a quirky framework of his own called Camping. Ultimately, Camping wasn't widely used. But it did provide the inspiration for another framework: Sinatra, which is now the second most widely used Ruby framework after Rails according to the JetBrains Developer Ecosystem 2021 survey.

Code literacy

In a widely read blog post from 2003, _why lamented the state of programming education. He pointed to the days when PCs shipped from the factory with BASIC interpreters that enabled users to get started writing useful, or at least fun, code right out of the box.

But the PCs and gaming consoles of the early 00s required considerably more effort to learn to program, he wrote. Before you could get started you needed to set up your development environment. To help remedy the situation, _why created an interactive Ruby tutorial called Try Ruby that enabled you to write and run Ruby from within a browser. Today it's not uncommon to see similar sites—Codecademy for example provides students with interactive, in-browser shells for several different languages. But in the era before cloud-based IDEs, _why’s tutorial was a revelation.

Had _why’s work been proprietary, it could have disappeared almost entirely. But because it was open source, _why’s own personal Max Brods were able to not only restore his work, but build and continue it. Many of these projects—including Try RubyHackety Hack, and Shoes—were maintained by the community long after _why's disappearance. Though it's not clear how much of _why's original code remains.

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