Reflections on Software Performance

Reflections on software performance

At this point in my career, I’ve worked on at least three projects where performance was a defining characteristic: Livegrep, Taktician, and Sorbet (I discussed sorbet in particular last time, and livegrep in an earlier post). I’ve also done a lot of other performance work on the tools I use, some of which ended up on my other blog, Accidentally Quadratic. In this post, I want to reflect on some of the lessons I’ve learned while writing performant software, and working with rather a lot more not-so-performant software.

I’ve really come to appreciate that performance isn’t just some property of a tool independent from its functionality or its feature set. Performance — in particular, being notably fast — is a feature in and of its own right, which fundamentally alters how a tool is used and perceived.