Bend It 'Til It Breaks

Want to know how strong a piece of steel is? Bend it 'til it breaks. Want to know how usable a programming system is? Make a few deliberate mistakes and see how comprehensible the error messages are. It's not the only approach, but it's the one Zef Hemel took with Ruby on Rails. In his original post, he took a critical look at how helpful Rails is when a developer mistypes something. A lot of people misunderstood what he was doing, which prompted a follow-up post; since then, he has tried the same approach with JBoss Seam and Scala Lift. I think this is pretty cool --- so cool, in fact, that I'm wondering if there's a thesis topic in there somewhere...
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