Technical debt and productivity

Technical debt is made up of all those things in our system (architecture, code, documentation, etc) that are working but are of sufficiently poor quality that they cause us to move slower when implementing new functionality. Perhaps we need to do additional testing before we can add something new or we need to refactor the code to make it cleaner or more extensible. Perhaps it’s just hard to read or understand and therefore difficult to know how to add the new functionality.

Test Driven Development (TDD): A design activity

Test Driven Development (TDD) is often though of as a testing activity but it really isn’t. It’s a design activity that leaves a bunch of automated tests behind in its wake. It may sound as if we’re spending a lot of time on “tests” but we’re really focusing on the behaviour we want and allowing that behaviour to drive the design of our system.

Using LEGO to teach technical practices

Years ago now, Bryan Beecham came up with the idea of using LEGO to teach the concept of Test Driven Development (TDD). Since this is a topic most often used by developers, previous trainings had focused on demonstrating this technique on actual code. However, Bryan wanted to introduce it to a different audience; he initially wanted to explain TDD to management and then later to other non-developers on the teams. To do this, he needed to be able to illustrate the concepts away from the actual source code. And thus was LEGO-TDD first created.

Prime factors in Elixir

In the last article, we showed how pattern matching could solve FizzBuzz. It’s a deliberately simple example so let’s look at something a little bit more complex.

Exploring Elixir

I’ve long advised people to learn multiple programming languages, as each new language you learn will make you better at all the ones you already know. Not just languages with different syntax, but languages that challenge how you look at problems.

Code comments

Research shows that code comments rarely stay in sync with the code they’re describing. Other psychology research shows that incorrect comments are worse than no comments at all. Should we get rid of code comments entirely or are some worth keeping around?

Learning from the past

Many years ago, I came in one morning to a client, to discover the website down and the email server completely unresponsive. Naturally, we assumed that we we’d been hacked. What else could take down two unrelated systems at the same time?

A developers job

This week I heard “A developers job is to write great software” and I disagree. A developers job is to solve problems for their clients. We have a tendency to get so focused on specific skillsets like “I write code” that we miss the entire point of why we’re doing it.