Sunday, June 22, 2008

Insecurity, or self-protection?

I'm as guilty of programming faults as anyone, but there's a vein of blame-the-programmers running through the blogosphere. Here's one example, discussing the tendency for programmers to develop in isolation and drop a finished product into the code line, where it's difficult for colleagues to analyze and understand for review.

What is not discussed is the environment that supports this. In many shops, the number of projects exceeds the number of developers, so everyone is always in the middle of multiple features, and the management rarely considers code reviews a worthwhile expenditure of time. It is hard to get the time for a final review, much less getting time from the 2-5 developers to review code in progress multiple times. The XP practice of Pair-Programming is one way to get at least one pair of eyes on code at all stages is also a hard sell to management - they see it as cutting their staff in half, and they already have too much to do!

Another issue is the type of criticism that we tend to get. Many of us are not well-suited to give constructive ciritcism. A cow-orker of mine is prone to call code not meeting her peculiar standards "bullshit" or "stupid", even if it meets the requirements provided the developer. I'm not partial to having such words applied to my efforts, especially if it's early in the development when my ideas are not fully formed.

But even if the programmers are less harsh, the fact remains that managers do not see reviews as progress, and it's rare to get the time to do them.

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