The Art of Being Lazy

One of the things I have found I consistently do on the job, regardless of the nature of the work, is attempt to automate the repetitive manual tasks which are common in many environments.

Back in college, when I had a data entry temp job to pay the bills, one of my daily tasks was to take two computer-generated lists and cross off entries that the two lists had in common. This being the green-screen terminal days, opportunities for automation were scarce, but a recently installed Apple Macintosh with green-screen emulation software gave me my first venue for removing the mind-numbing task from my daily to-do list.

At the time I did not know I would make a habit out of being lazy* in this way, but here at GT Nexus I find myself extolling the virtues of Larry Wall-style laziness to whomever will listen.

Continuous integration systems are only tenuously related to my duties as a Software Architect, but they help us all be lazy (which leads to better productivity) and we have been improving our systems consistently over the past year. Static code checkers have been part of our build cycle for years, and we constantly try to improve and tune them to automate our bug detection before our code reaches our testers.  If we need to change a collection of files, scripting — I tend to use Groovy, but there are many options available — is the only way to make it happen. All these efforts pay big dividends over time.

Every day we are doing more to automate our work, whether it is in regard to testing, code review, or development. If I can find a way to automate good design, I will evangelize that as well.

What are your favorite automation tools? Do you do whatever you can to be as lazy as possible?



* “We will encourage you to develop the three great virtues of a programmer: laziness, impatience, and hubris.” — LarryWall.  Find more here.

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