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  • You Aren't Going to Need It: Unless, of course, you are. The whole point of coding it beforehand is that later you won't have time to fiddle with coding and testing; whereas right now, you do. Going back to the customer, and saying: "you can't do that (reasonable request) with our product" sells fewer units than "click on the <enable request> checkbox".
  • Do the Simplest Thing That Couple Possibly Work: I agree with this one whole heartedly. Simple code tends to be correct code.
  • Once And Only Once: Is rarely the simplest thing to do, because it requires abstraction. Abstracting away from the business requirements is one more thing that can go wrong. Having, say, a global variable or class default that has to be tracked down is often harder to find than just calling the functions explictly, without implicit values being passed around. Worse still, once you move your code around, from say a nested if cascade to a hash table lookup with coderefs, in a month, the business requirements will require that you move to a different model of abstraction to handle a new problem. Now you've got to go back to the old code again... which is needless repetition of coder time.

    A decent search and replace, applied intelligently (or better still, a language-specific refactoring browser) can make mass changes at a single stroke: without the added confusion of implict values lurking in the background.

  • Refactor Mercilessly: This is a pipe dream. Coder time is very, very expensive. This is one of those comfortable academic ideas that doesn't make much business sense: doing a lot of work on a program, that if done correctly, will result in a product that does the same exactly same thing as it did before, and if done wrong might ruin the product.

    It's a nice idea: it's nice to upgrade code when practical, but there are lots of times and places where the economics just don't justify tampering with things that don't need to be tampered with. Yes, you can get nice results. No, they're probably not profitable for the effort expended.

  • Test First: This is a great concept. It doesn't work in most business settings, though. In order to test, you need to know exactly what you're testing, and how. To properly test a section of the program, you need to define what that section does, and how it does it (all preconditions, post conditions, and side effects, etc.)

    You can't do that until you write the code: and determine that this I/O function X sets global variable Y, which you'll manage by using wrapper functions Z1, Z2, and Z3. Only then can you begin to write meaningful unit tests for Z1, Z2, and Z3: otherwise, the best you can do is write in some wishful thinking, which you'll probably have to tear out, and replace with new tests later. So you might as well wait until the end: otherwise, you're wasting effort (and programmer time is expensive).

  • Other thoughts:
    Minimalism: is just plain good.
    Tight Feeback: is costly. If you have the money to burn, it may or may not be profitable.
    Introspection: is good when it works; and a complete waste of time when it doesn't pay off. Best reserved for people with the actual power to change things. Usually, the real problem is: "we don't have enough money/resources/manpower to solve this problem correctly"
    Transparency: again, this typically generates better code, at a cost of time (and money). Worth it in most cases: but may be hard to persuade management.

    Writing good code is a trivial excercise: any half-decent coder can learn to do it. Writing good code on a budget, without a decent testing environment, and with sharp real time constraints is brutally hard. Unfortunately, that's largely today's business climate... --
    AC


    In reply to Re^2: On Quality by Anonymous Monk
    in thread On Quality by Tanktalus

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