Web Development as a Craft


In the mouthwatering documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi, the titular Jiro talks about the concept of shokunin. Beyond the literal translation of craftsman or artisan, he describes shokunin as an individual who constantly seeks to improve his craft. An important prerequisite of this pursuit is to first achieve consistency.

The dev arm of CLINIC+ is a fairly self-regulating operation. We all conform to a set of ever-evolving conventions that we design and agree upon as a team. These range from exclusively using the hash rocket syntax, to small things like indentation practices. All code is peer reviewed in accordance with these conventions. Any violations, and code is sent back to the author for revision.

Why spend so much time poring over such minute details?

The underlying philosophy here is to have a codebase appear as if it were written by one individual. We strive to author code that is readable and intuitive enough to reduce the need to explain anything through superfluous commenting.

When all other factors are consistent, a developer’s unique solution to a complex problem is the only thing remaining to analyze. This significantly cuts down any ramp-up time when someone hops in on a project that he or she has never worked on before.

We don’t claim to be shokunin, but aiming for a great level of consistency leaves us with readable, and thus highly maintainable codebases. In the long run, this gives us more time to focus on improving our craft.