Thursday, February 22 2007

Says it all, really…

I think this is the single finest example of premature optimization in existence today. From “Life with djbdns”:

The format of this datafile is documented at It looks a bit strange at first because it is not optimized to be readable by humans, but rather is optimized for parsing.

Following the link turns up this quote, which had me on the floor:

The data format is very easy for programs to edit, and reasonably easy for humans to edit, unlike the traditional zone-file format.

Yes, I think we can all agree that a colon-separated data file where whitespace is illegal and record type is indicated by a single ASCII character (+%.&=@-‘^CZ:) is easy for a simple-minded program to edit. I don’t think anyone with two brain cells to rub together can agree that it’s “reasonably easy for humans to edit”.

I must confess that, between his famous Usenet debut and my first look at the daemontools package he inflicts on all users of his software, I have never been particularly open-minded as to the merits of “the DJB way”. I’ve never heard a compelling technical reason for a site to abandon Bind and Postfix, and his advocates tend to have the glassy-eyed stare of veteran kool-aid drinkers, so until recently I hadn’t even bothered to look at his data formats.

The djbdns data file format? Fucking stupid.