Don't Do It Yourself - Learning to Trust Open Source

What do you do when your manager asks you to reinvent the wheel by writing code that does something that is already done by an open source library?

I saw a conversation on IRC today that really surprised me. Basically, it went like this: guy comes in, and says "I need to write a library for service acquisition, so I can get a service with something like getService(PersonService.class)."This person was aware of Spring and Guice, and was told that he was to create his own instead of using a third party library. This is nuts.

I feel really bad for this guy, because he's screwed. He's working for someone who is either really paranoid about third party stuff, or hates him, or something.

The answer is really clear to me: he should use Guice or Spring. (Which one is irrelevant.) At the very worst, he should go to his boss and say "look, we can copy the ideas from Guice word for verbatim and have exactly what we want,"which should be a clue for the PHB to just say "why don't we use Guice instead."

It's scary that people don't know enough about open source and how development in Java is done to rely on well-known and trusted libraries. The runtime library is kept small on purpose. It gives us the most flexibility and power to do what's best.

Educate your bosses on using the power of the Java community. Use what's there. Stand on the shoulders of giants. It's the only way not to drown.

This was last published in January 2012

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