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The only way to "finish" software in the way the author describes is to find or invent an abstraction that is exceptionally powerful and well-designed. It has to give users what they want for a multitude of different use cases without requiring the library to grow to accommodate those use cases.

In practice, abstractions this powerful and flexible are almost impossible to create. For example:

- the Linux kernel is based around POSIX, which is a pretty good set of abstractions. But its API surface area is huge, and whenever users want to do something not in POSIX, the Linux developers have to invent a new syscall or stick more crap in /proc.

- Lua is an exceptionally well-designed scripting language and implementation, that satisfies tons of use cases while staying small. But it keeps adding features to address pain points of existing users. For example, Lua 5.3 added integer support. Users wanted it.

- zlib is perhaps the closest I can think of to a library truly being "done." And it gets away with this because it is perhaps one of the easiest abstractions to define and contain: a simple string->string streaming transformation that uses a roughly constant overhead of memory. That's pretty much as good as it gets!




Even zlib looks to be a bit more complex than that when doing streams of packet data: http://www.bolet.org/~pornin/deflate-flush-fr.html

There's also stuff like preset dictionaries and so on so string->string is just one part of the abstraction and isn't a full signature. Compression level's another.

zlib's also not competitive in many scenarios, so it's only "done" for limited scope.




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