Code Archives

TIL about Literate Programming

As a programmer whose first job was in the mortgage software industry, “TIL” has always meant “Truth In Lending” to me: you know, that document that the bank is required to give you when you get a mortgage, that’s supposed to explain how much you’re really paying after all the bank’s hidden finance charges, except the numbers don’t seem to make any sense so you just sign it anyway and don’t know anything more than you did before?  Yeah, that one.

Of course, nowadays it means something else, and I’ve had to redirect my ossified mental patterns into new channels, so that, now when I see “TIL,” I can have my brain recognize it as “Today I Learned.” Which is a handy phrase: it encapsulates feelings of discovery, serendipity, and epiphany all into one.  And TIL1 that the way I’ve always tried to write code has a name, a history, and a venerable progenitor—most of my life, without even realizing it, I’ve been trying to use literate programming (only without the tangling).

About Buddy Burden

user-pic 12 years in California, 23 years in Perl, 32 years in computers, 53 years in bare feet.