Douglas Hofstadter, longtime computer programmer and author of Gödel, Escher, Bach, summed up his experience in the computing trenches with this eponymous law: It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law.
Yet organizations, stakeholders and project managers the world over still put timelines on software projects. Even programmers themselves. Is Hofstadter’s Law more self-evident to programmers, who must grapple firsthand with the fussy literalness of machines, or to project managers, who must try to lead everyone through the slog? Project managers count on the API to save two months of work, but it’s the developer who discovers that the API has 129 options — except the one the company needs. Getting your code to build is difficult, but so is managing eight programmers who are all struggling with different bugs that stop the code from building.
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