A Discussion on Spit Shine and Polish

This might turn into a little rant, so forgive me if you disagree. Know I value the opposing view as well, but I just think there needs to be a little more wholesome attitudes sometimes.

Programmers often make projects that they aren’t proud of because it doesn’t have the “spit shine and polish” of some big studio. This is especially true for my students – they don’t think they did well using scratch because it isn’t studio quality. I often fall into the trap that if it’s not perfect – if it’s not something that everyone who it could possibly relate to loves, it’s not worth making. Worse yet, I am just making a worse version of something else that already exists, so why make it at all?

I don’t think this is a good, or even correct line of thinking. We often correlate programming to cooking recipes. We share them, and make them, and enjoy others variations of it, but sometimes, we just eat the end result of the recipe. Sure, I could, and do go to a restaurant, and it’s often much better than what I could make at home. This serves as your polished programs and games – restaurant food. But, even if it’s not quite as good as you would find in a restaurant, there is still a charm of making it yourself – in some ways, it just makes it even better.

So, next time you’re kicking yourself about how your program just doesn’t match up – remember that.


Sometimes, programmers won’t even entertain an idea if they believe it might result in a worse version. I find myself doing this quite often, depending on my mood. People often lack the motivation or time to work on a project that already exists; it can stress and pressure them. They know they are just creating another project that’s already out there, and theirs might turn out worse than the existing one.


Absolutely agree, the point here is to not give such pressure to ourselves lol


For beginners and some intermediate, making high quality projects is out of reach until they create some mediocre, unoriginal projects.
The point of making these projects is less about creating something perfect, somewhat about making a functional thing (good for motivation), and most about learning skills, so that one can make even better projects in the future.
Until then, students have to accept that whatever they are making, it probably already exists, but that’s not the important part: the importance is that it is their own work.

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I also agree here too. I just think we can also take some pride in that even though its been done before, and maybe even better by someone else, I would personally take using whatever I make any day – because I made it myself.

If it does what I need it to do, but isn’t as pretty or not as cleanly, I am going to use mine – theres a personal pride in that I guess lol.

I have been programming on and off since the late 90’s. My code was, is, and probably always will be made fun of by people who can really make some impressive things. While I am willing to learn and get better, my main focus is just being able to get it to work. As Bruce Perens (founder of Open Source Initiative) has been quoted saying “we just want the software to work.” Maybe I’m too pragmatic with my coding though lol

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