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Some of my friends work in embedded development, so I have at least a second-hand feeling of what it's like to have to get the code work with only 64k of RAM.

To be fair, most of the problems these people seem to face are relatively simple (at least a lot of the time) compared to writing multi-threaded web servers with two database backends (one relational, one NoSQL) using 47 different varieties of XML to represent the same data, but in slightly different ways that only become apparent once one has spent a few weeks reading the specs before going to sleep, until one dreams of the perfect file or something.

I know embedded developers have their own fair share of troubling problems; I am so glad that even the worst bug I could ever come up with would be unable to endanger human lives. I start transpiring like a hippo just thinking about a user being really unhappy with a piece of code that I wrote; I seriously don't want to know what it's like if your bug has killed people.

(Embedded development covers a wide range of problems, of course, but inevitably, some of those are going to have to do with transporting human beings across an ocean, safely, or something like that. I do not envy the people that have to write that kind of code.)




I do both embedded development (day job) and web development (night jobs(s)) and it's not that embedded tasks are simpler, it's that you don't have to deal with a ridiculous stack of third-party code that is constantly changing.

With an embedded system you know and control every component of the system, right down to the CPU bugs, and as a result your application code is much, much simpler. You can reason about and understand everything; there are no black boxes.

The safety thing is not a big problem in practice. Your companies have lawyers, regulatory teams, risk assessors, standards and code reviews. You will thoroughly test everything to ridiculous detail (in my experience, 30:1 ratio of test:production code). Mistakes happen, but by the time they manifest in reality so many people will have had a hand in it that you won't feel personally responsible.


Thank you, that was fascinating to read!




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