Saturday, March 29, 2008

Things I believe in

  • It's easier to re-build a system from its tests than to re-build the tests from their system.

  • You can measure code complexity, adherence to standards and test coverage; you can't measure quality of design.

  • Formal and flexible are not mutually exclusive.

  • The tests should pass, first time, every time (unless you're changing them or the code).

  • Flexing your Right BICEP is a sure-fire way to quality tests.

  • Test code is production code and it deserves the same level of care.

  • Prototypes should always be thrown away.

  • Documentation is good, self documenting code is better, code that doesn't need documentation is best.

  • If you're getting bogged down in the process then the process is wrong.

  • Agility without structure is just hacking.

  • Pairing allows good practices to spread.

  • Pairing allows bad practices to spread.

  • Cycling the pairs every day is hard work.

  • Team leaders should be inside the team, not outside it.

  • Project Managers are there to facilitate the practice of developing software, not to control it.

  • Your customers are not idiots; they always know their business far better than you ever will.

  • A long list of referrals for a piece of software does not increase the chances of it being right for you, and shouldn't be considered when evaluating it.

  • You can't solve a problem until you know what the problem is. You can't answer a question until the question's been asked.

  • Software development is not complex by accident, it's complex by essence.

  • Always is never right, and never is always wrong.

  • Interesting is not the same as useful.

  • Clever is not the same as right.

  • The simplest thing that will work is not always the same as the easiest thing that will work.

  • It's easier to make readable code correct than it is to make clever code readable.

  • If you can't read your tests, then you can't read your documentation.

  • There's no better specification document than the customer's voice.

  • You can't make your brain bigger, so make your code simpler.

  • Sometimes multiple exit points are OK. The same is not true of multiple entry points.

  • Collective responsibility means that everyone involved is individually responsible for everything.

  • Sometimes it's complex because it needs to be; but you should never be afraid to check.

  • If every time you step forward you get shot down you're fighting for the wrong army.

  • If you're always learning you're never bored.

  • There are no such things as "Best Practices". Every practice can be improved upon.

  • Nothing is exempt from testing. Not even database upgrades.

  • It's not enough to collect data, you need to analyse, understand and act upon that data once you have it.

  • A long code freeze means a broken process.

  • A test hasn't passed until it has failed.

  • If you give someone a job, you can't guarantee they'll do it well; If you give someone two jobs you can guarantee they'll do both badly

  • Every meeting should start with a statement on its purpose and context, even if everyone in the meeting already knows.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A reading list for our developers

An idea I'm thinking of trying to get implemented at our place is a required reading list for all our developers. A collection of books that will improve the way that developers think about their code, and they ways in which they solve problems. The company would buy the books as gifts to the employees, maybe one or two every three months.

Some questions though:

  • Is it fair for a company to expect its employees to read educational material out of hours?

Conversely:
  • Is it fair for an employee to expect to be moved forward in their career without a little bit of personal development outside the office?


If anyone has any books out there that they'd recommend - please let me know. Otherwise, here's my initial ideas - the first three would be in your welcome pack:

Update:Gary Myers came up with a good point, being that any book should really be readable on public transport. That probably rules out Code Complete (although I read it on the tube, I can see that it's a little tricky), but Design Patterns and Refactoring to Patterns are small enough I reckon.

Unfortunately, Code Complete is a really good book that gives a lot of great, simple, valuable advice. Does anyone out there have any other suggestions for similar books?

Update 2:Andy Beacock reminded me of Fowler's Refactoring, which really should also make the list.

Update 3:The development team have bought into the idea and the boss has been asked. In fact, I'm pretty pleased with the enthusiasm shown by the team for the idea. I can't see the boss turning it down. Interestingly though, someone suggested that Code Complete go onto the list...

In this order:


Ruled out because of their size:

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