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Ask Slashdot: Dedicating Code? 186

Posted by samzenpus
from the this-one's-for-you dept.
First time accepted submitter The_Buse writes "This week I lost my grandmother and after returning to work (as a web developer) I find myself looking for some way to dedicate something to her memory. Unfortunately, I'm no author so I can't dedicate a book to her, and I can't carry a tune so penning a song in her honor is out of the question. What I can do is write one hell of a web app, and after nearly a year of development my (small) team and I are nearing the release date of our next product. My question is, have you ever dedicated a project/app/code in honor of someone? What's the best way to do it: comment blocks in the header, tongue-in-cheek file names, Easter eggs? Or is this a horrible idea all together?"
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Ask Slashdot: Dedicating Code?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 14, 2012 @10:06AM (#41649415)

    A simple "in loving memory of X" or "decicated to X" should do.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 14, 2012 @11:18AM (#41649869)

      A simple "in loving memory of X" or "decicated to X" should do.

      This doesn't quite count, but I once put this in a .java file years ago:

      /**
        * @dedication This code is dedicated to all the l33t h4x0rs that will never get laid.
        */

    • Dedications help (Score:4, Interesting)

      by mtaht (603670) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @12:05PM (#41650179) Homepage
      I lost two friends and my father this year. I dedicated this release of cerowrt ( http://cero2.bufferbloat.net/cerowrt/credits.html [bufferbloat.net] ) to them. Most of the machines we have are named after someone that has passed, for example our main build box is named after http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Huchra [wikipedia.org] It helped a lot to channel them all as we struggled to get the releases out. And, surprisingly, making ice cream, with liquid nitrogen as the coolant, has got to be a healing ritual, around here.
    • by Meski (774546)
      That isn't how you spell desiccated, and the grandmother probably hasn't achieved that state yet...
  • Nice Idea (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 14, 2012 @10:06AM (#41649417)

    If you have an 'About...' item or a slash screen this seems like a good place to do it

    • by ThreeDayMonk (673466) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @01:38PM (#41650805) Homepage

      If you have an 'About...' item or a slash screen this seems like a good place to do it

      A slash screen? Now I'm imagining a desktop application that starts up with a painstakingly-rendered airbrush-style image of Picard and Riker locked in a passionate kiss.

      And now you probably are, too. I'm so sorry.

  • Another way (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Jerry Smith (806480)

    You spent several manyears in coding an app, and just before release you consider implementing an Easter Egg?! How about the splash screen with the name of the app and "dedicated to my grandmother", that should do it.

  • Bad idea (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    A web app that will be forgotten by everyone including you in 5 years.

    Technology and software changes too fast to get any sort of meangful duration dedication out of it like that.

    • by RiscIt (95258)

      Indeed. There is a reason memorials are made out of things like stone. Things that don't really last make the person making the dedication feel better, but I've always felt they were bit hollow.

      I still find it sad when I see those "In Loving Memory of" stickers on new cars of all things. ...That same car will rust and decay and eventually be sold for scrap in 20 years or less most likely. How does that honor anyone?

      • This. There is a reason markers are made of granite. A small, polished granite obelisk with her name and dates of birth and death, and maybe a small poem or a portrait on it would be small enough that you could keep it close to you but still last for a long time. It would also go well in a small "remembrance" flower garden.

        Some of the "ghost lights" were also popular a few years ago: lithophanes CNC cut into Corian or plexiglass and lit by LEDs. Classy and small. Liable to last longer than you will.

      • As an opposing view... hundreds or thousands of people wil see that window sticker.
        When you get a new car you can either got a new sticker (easy enough) or let your loved ones move on. Your choice.

        I don't see anything sad about honoring a passed loved one in any way.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 14, 2012 @10:06AM (#41649423)

    http://www.gnu.org/software/gnump3d/dedication.html

  • Probably Not (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dogbertius (1333565) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @10:11AM (#41649447)
    Sorry to seem harsh, but this is probably not the best idea. If it's fun little web app, then you could pull it off. Anything that will deployed in a professional environment should not have something like this present. I think the only time I've ever seen this in practice was in the "Help -> About" section of a proprietary DB app used in automotive shops. I think it was addressed to the office pet (a golden lab) for the small office of coders that wrote the app.

    Why do you feel compelled to draw attention to the loss of your grandmother? My condolences for this loss, but there are probably more appropriate ways to commemorate her memory. Pay for a spot in the obituary in the local paper, so that the people in closest proximity (and are likely the largest demographic which may have been affected by her actions) would know. It's always a shock for people to learn years after the fact that a local pillar of the community or old friend has passed away. It might do some good to make sure all the people that knew her are aware of this.

    I hope this helps.
    • Yes, dedicating a professional commercial software product to someone guarantees its failure, Apple Lisa (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_Lisa).

    • Why do you feel compelled to draw attention to the loss of your grandmother?

      Um, because the person loved her, that's why. Why do you feel compelled to take issue with it?

      The point of a dedication is to hallmark an intense work of labor or of love with an emblem of personal significance, and to seal that work, in a sense to elevate it, with the idea that all of the work we do is in some sense personal -- to ourselves, and, to the degree that we are influenced or driven by those important to us, to those others as well with whom we share our lives. If one can dedicate, of all things,

    • by Iskender (1040286)

      Sorry to seem harsh, but this is probably not the best idea. If it's fun little web app, then you could pull it off. Anything that will deployed in a professional environment should not have something like this present.

      "should not". Says who? On what authority? Who or what made you think that an expression of compassion is somehow damaging?

      • by dzfoo (772245)

        Spoken like a true geek.

        He never suggested that it would be "damaging," just inappropriate. For a business application, I agree.

                  -dZ.

        • by nschubach (922175)

          I'm curious about what will happen when the next programmer comes along and removes the dedication because he/she has no idea who the person is. Then again, I've never understood dedications.

  • Horrible idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ritchie70 (860516) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @10:15AM (#41649473) Journal

    Whatever it is, it probably has an expected life span of a few years.

    If you tie a tribute to your departed grandmother up in it, you're going to be even more bummed when your project's life ends.

    My grandfather died slightly over a decade ago. Nothing I was working on then is still in use in any meaningful way. Both facts make me sad, but having them tied together would be worse.

    Find the local park district and buy a little plaque on a park bench if you want something. Or a brick in the humane society sidewalk, or whatever people do wherever it is you are.

    Or better yet, honor her memory by doing something with your life that would make her proud of you. You probably had a hard time explaining to her what you even do, why would you memorialize her with it?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      ...honor her memory by doing something with your life that would make her proud of you.

      Best thing I've ever read on Slashdot since it started.

    • Re:Horrible idea (Score:5, Insightful)

      by techdolphin (1263510) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @10:56AM (#41649747)

      Consider what your grandmother liked.

      If it is parks, then a plaque in the park is good. If she loved babies, then perhaps you could donate time to a crisis nursery or help them build a web application. If she loved animals, then perhaps do the same for an animal shelter. If she loved science, then you could help with a program that gets children interested in science.

      With a little thought, I am sure you could come up with a great way to honor your grandmother's memory.

    • Right. That's why dedicating books to people is such a stupid idea. You write a book that has fewer than 5000 copies sold, and is forgotten in a few years. Songs are even more likely to be forgotten.

      No wait, that's wrong! It's not a horrible idea. If someone is good at something, dedicating something that you have made/written is fine. It's more meaningful than a plaque which just sits there.

      And yes, software stops being used. And plaques rust. Whatever.

      Personally, I would suggest putting some notes in the

      • by Ritchie70 (860516)

        I was speaking merely of the greater impermanence of software compared to things in the more physical world, and the emotional ties that would make its end harder.

        If the OP doesn't think that will bother him, put a little thing about her in HTML comments, and a dedication in the About.

        Books are different than software. If 5,000 copies were sold, it's likely that the book will exist for a very long time somewhere - but, more importantly, the not sold copies can persist on the author's bookshelf, and the auth

  • what I'd do (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 14, 2012 @10:15AM (#41649475)

    Either a comment block in HTML or a paragraph in humans.txt

  • Plant a Tree (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 14, 2012 @10:16AM (#41649479)

    Planting a tree is easy to do and provides many years of enjoyment.

  • How about adding her name in the 'credits' after the other developers' names, perhaps with a short compliment on her qualities as a person? Or associated more closely with your name to avoid the team feeling as if you've appropriated the entire project.

  • Strange, but valid (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 14, 2012 @10:19AM (#41649505)

    First, I'm sorry for you loss.

    While it's nice to dedicate work to someone, you might want to rethink the method. Certainly don't put in easter eggs or change file names. That not only gets in the way of functionality, but will also prevent most people from seeing what you have done. (Plus it'll depress the people who do see it.) If you are going to dedicate your coding work to someone I recommend doing so in the release notes or release announcement. I've done this before, dedicating a single release to a family member or friend or sick person who could use some kind thoughts. But note the difference, it's not something in the product, it's not hidden, it's a clear, up front dedication which people can see without affecting your development or functionality.

    Another thought: After losing someone there can be a strong urge to _do something_, anything. You want to mark that person's life and their meaning to you and that is great, it is. However, it's usually a bad idea to mix business and your personal life. Consider writing a poem, or donate money to charity in their name. These approaches will not only maintain a healthy barrier between your personal life and work, but it will probably mean more to people in a wider audience.

  • by vlm (69642) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @10:29AM (#41649555)

    As usual with all other topics, check out what Debian has been doing for more than a decade.
    Pretty much every release this century has some dedication to devs who died since the last release.
    Sad, but true, that anytime you get a thousand or so people together in a group, even if they're mostly young and apparently healthy, you're gonna lose one every year or so.

    • by LourensV (856614) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @10:55AM (#41649731)
      And KDE [kde.org] has dedicated releases to deceased contributors as well. Why not? A small note in the release notes and perhaps in the About box would be the most tasteful option in my opinion, but it's your grandmother, so you decide.
    • by westlake (615356)

      As usual with all other topics, check out what Debian has been doing for more than a decade.

      I don't why something like this becomes a problem for the geek.

      It has never been a problem for the writer, the composer, the theatrical or motion picture producer, the architect or the engineer.

      • by Iskender (1040286)

        I don't why something like this becomes a problem for the geek.

        It has never been a problem for the writer, the composer, the theatrical or motion picture producer, the architect or the engineer.

        Well put, you managed to convey what I was thinking too.

    • by Kjella (173770)

      Sad, but true, that anytime you get a thousand or so people together in a group, even if they're mostly young and apparently healthy, you're gonna lose one every year or so.

      Leading causes being major physical trauma like car crashes, falling from great heights or heavy objects land/collapse over you as well as suicides, for most of these it doesn't matter if you're a top athlete or a tub of lard.

    • by jgrahn (181062)

      As usual with all other topics, check out what Debian has been doing for more than a decade. Pretty much every release this century has some dedication to devs who died since the last release.

      That's different: that's a dedication inside the very thing the deceased was working on, made by and for the community she was a member of. You don't see Debian releases dedicated to some member's grandparent, although we can be sure the members have loved ones and sorrows like everyone else.

      So here's another vote for not doing anything like that.

  • by sandytaru (1158959) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @10:32AM (#41649565) Journal
    Nothing in the actual app itself. If you have a credits page, put "In loving memory of..." at the very bottom of the page. No one reads the credits unless the know of the the developers anyway, and those folks will probably be pleased to see a note of dedication to a grandma at the bottom.
  • I'm not trying to be harsh either, but seriously an app dedication? Was she a ground breaking coder? Did she sponsor your education? It just seems like a very inappropriate way to honour her.

    If you want to dedicate something to her, tell your family and friends about the first time she taught you something, or the things you do that have been passed down from her. Hold onto her lessons and events, they're the most precious thing anyone can give you. And when you share them with others you will be honouri
    • by Iskender (1040286)

      I'm not trying to be harsh either, but seriously an app dedication? Was she a ground breaking coder? Did she sponsor your education? It just seems like a very inappropriate way to honour her.

      Books aren't dedicated exclusively to authors. While dedications are rarer in code, it follows that they don't have to go to coders exclusively.

      I'm not a coder but looking at this thread it looks like people confuse being a professional with being inhuman. Being professional is about getting the job done. So what if some user sees a dedication - it means the author cares about other people.

  • Since you're a web developer, why not create a simple memorial website for your grandmother? Then her friends and family can use it to share photos and stories about her life.
  • by wisnoskij (1206448) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @10:39AM (#41649617) Homepage

    Steve Jobs named one of his Apple computer versions after his daughter, Lisa.

  • Plant a tree,
    Rescue an abandoned pet
    Help kids,

    Be a person your Grandmother would respect.

  • Plant a tree (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HockeyPuck (141947) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @10:39AM (#41649625)

    Plant a tree in her honor. You can put a small plaque in front of it. Or as another poster suggested do something in the park like donate a bench. These tend to have an impact far beyond just the app itself, which is a pretty short timeframe.

    What if you left the company or it got shut down? Or if you changed departments. If it's a larger project, someone else could take it over 5 years from now and decide to re-dedicate it to their grandmother...

    However, the bench and the tree will still be standing.

  • by zitsky (303560)

    I consider myself a cynic, but I teared up when I read about your plans to honor your grandmother. I think you should do it. It's a simple, harmless way to show your affection for her. It doesn't harm anyone or anything but it allows you to respect her memory.

  • Rewrite the compiler so that your binary is secretly an audio file with a message of your choosing.

    Bonus points if your application can play itself.

  • This is what I did for my grandmother. It's not exactly what you were thinking maybe, but may give you some ideas.
    http://enigmadream.com/maryann/ [enigmadream.com]

  • I dedicated my final year project to my housemate for providing moral support - he provided moral support by dropping out of college and spending £27,000 on crack cocaine and underage prostitutes.

    Whenever I had trouble finding motivation, I thought of him. This was remarkably effective in motivating me to do a good job of it - I didn't want to wind up in the same boat.

  • I'm teaching at a university of applied sciences and one of my students is currently creating a website using PHP/HTML5 and WebM/Vorbis media to remember her recently deceased dad, using interviews of relatives and friends, video snippets, photos and stories about his life, all chronologically linked together, categorized and tagged. The site will be password-protected and every friend or relative will receive an account. Apparently the man had a whole lot of friends all around the world, easily justifying

  • Using repurposed military robotics and AI, create an unstoppable geriatric-mecha-juggernaut with the voice and personality of your deceased grandmother, who will then carve a swath of destruction through the city as it takes Grandpa on a trip to the beach. Or at least, that's what Anime tells me you should do. :)

    Roujin Z: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0102812/ [imdb.com]

  • I plan on donating my corpse to the local medical university. But before whats left of me ships out, I want to have some physical Easter Eggs planted in my body for the medical students to find. Like, USB memory sticks with medical fetish porn, secret Da Vinci coded treasure maps, extra Alien Borg technology organs, etc. That ought to lighten up anatomy class.

    When planning to dedicate something, the best thing to do is ask the person what they really want, before they die.

  • Michael Mamaril [wikia.com]

    In a game that is the diametric opposite of class, a fan lost to cancer was memorialized in a way that is actually pretty touching. Working on the premise that this should be somebody the player is happy to see, unlike the majority of the cast, whenever he's around, he chats with you and gives you a really excellent gift.

    The thing you're making probably doesn't have that kind of scope, but the basic idea is this: if you want to pay your respects in code, don't bury it or put it at the en
  • by mdf356 (774923) <mdf356@g m a i l .com> on Sunday October 14, 2012 @12:10PM (#41650221) Homepage

    FreeBSD 9.0 was dedicated to Dennis Ritchie [freebsd.org].

  • ...and would appreciate a well-turned web app, by all means dedicate that to her. Otherwise, may I suggest that you look for something that your Gran might appreciate a bit more, as a meaningful tribute to her memory.
  • by Daltorak (122403) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @12:39PM (#41650423)

    .... should be positive ones. Inside jokes, cultural references, maybe a rewritten song lyric, or something else that lightens up the task of writing production-quality code.
    (e.g. a class in our code base, for instance, has a function called YoDawg() whose responsibility is to recursively instantiate itself.)

    Keeping your work life separate from your personal life is extremely important. You should not be bringing your grief into your professional work. We've all lost parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts, cousins, friends, past lovers, former co-workers, and some of us even lose our spouses and children. It's really f-ing difficult to deal with, even years afterwards. If we all brought that grief into our professional lives, we'd all be professionally miserable. It's not healthy, and it's not fair to others who don't share your grief.

  • I often put a "Happy Birthday _____" comment in code I was writing, along with @author and @date.

    In your case, I'd put a little one line dedication in HTML comments which won't impact the project's efficiency but will put the dedication onto all users' computers (where a PHP comment wouldn't get loaded in the browser, for example).

    Also a note in the About page would be fine. I'd do both.

    Oh, and condolences.

  • Do something useful in her name. Help someone overseas (or local - but someone not as lucky as you) get started with a cheap loan. http://www.kiva.org/start [kiva.org]
  • I would drop it in the about section, towards the top of the output.
  • I've used splash screens to dedicate things to fallen loved ones. If there isn't a splash screen, another good place is in the about box, and another is the release note.

    I've put dedications in several places in honor of several lost friends and family. It may be easier to get away with such things in the FOSS world, I guess. Anyway, the response from users was always such that I never felt I'd gone too far with any of the dedications. As a meme in the world of code, I think dedicating your work to some

  • by Fubari (196373) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @08:34PM (#41653579)
    Nobody has said what your web app is, or who actually owns it.
    1) First question: What does the app do?
    Is it something that is appropriate for an in-memorium quote? It may well be; authors, artists, musicians have a long history of dedicating important works that they've poured their heart into
    2) Second question: who owns the app?
    Is this a startup venture? An open source opus? Maybe a work for hire?
    If someone is paying you to build the app, is it really yours to put a dedication into? And how would your customer feel upon seeing it? I'm not saying don't do this if you don't own it; I'm just saying it is important to get the owner's consent so they're not surprised at their next industry conference by their biggest client asking, "So who is 'Grandma Smith' anyway?"
    3) Third question: how do your co-developers feel about giving a nod to you grandmother?
    Observation: if for whatever reason the web app you're mentioned isn't appropriate, consider letting this inspire to you create something that is.
    If you started some open source project, or even a commercial project, you could name it after your grandmother and put it in the About section.
    Or maybe there is a book idea you've been sitting on for a while now...
    *shrug* It could be a very nice gesture, or possibly crude or inappropriate. Like so many things it depends on the details.
  • Okay, I'm sure I'm going to get modded somewhere between +5 and -240,343 for this, but what the heck...

    Before I go on, let me say I'm really sorry for your loss. I hope you and your family are well.

    So here's my question: Why do you want to do anything in particular for her memory? I don't mean this question with the assumption that you have no good answer. But I'm curious.

  • by manu0601 (2221348) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @09:54PM (#41654017)

    There are precedents. For instance NetBSD [netbsd.org] has dedicated releases to its deceased developers a few times.

    From NetBSD-5.1 releases notes [netbsd.org]

    NetBSD 5.1 is dedicated to the memory of Martti Kuparinen, who was the victim of a traffic accident in June 2010. Martti's technical contributions are too many to list here in full. He created and maintained numerous packages in pkgsrc, updated two packet filter solutions distributed with NetBSD and improved several hardware drivers. Beyond that, he was always helpful and friendly. His example encouraged users to contribute to the project and share their work with the community. Some of these users later became NetBSD developers themselves thanks to Martti's efforts.

  • Depends very much on your employer; but mine has no problem with easter eggs as long as they're fully documented as a part of the spec in case of a security review at a customer who cares deeply about that sort of thing (which is next to none; but just in case).

    Every app I write has a dedication - multiple to my daughter just after she was born and also a few to my mother just after she died. Usually in the form of "display a picture and some text when a particular sequence of events takes place that is ri

  • When one of my cats died suddenly (I know, not quite the same thing) I snuck her name into part of a computer game I was working on. I had just put in a hospital (superheroes need healing, after all) so I called it the Elsie C. Attus (i.e., Elsie the cat) Memorial Hospital. Not sure if any of the players ever knew why it had that name, but even five years later I'm still glad when I see it. That's just for a pet - hope you get the same feeling with whatever you dedicate to your grandmother.

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