This blog contains reflections and thoughts on my work as a software engineer

tirsdag den 24. juni 2008

Fusions for dummies

Does anybody know where to buy the "How to merge IT-infrastructure and culture of an organization - for dummies"? Well... My company is about to take part in a fusion which will give birth to a unified organization responsible for all sorts of athletics, sports and excersise in Denmark. Today we had a meeting where we discussed various issues concerning IT-migration stuff and various non-tech and tech. related issues. This is a quick summary gathered from my personal experiences and beliefs - it does not relate at all to anything other than my personal view on how to do things "the right way":

Do figure out a way to quickly deliver some shiny new functionality It sounds like an anti-pattern but it will make you and your current organization shine. It will also help positioning you and your team as a neccesary and vital part of a future IT-departement. Sometimes (most of the time, actually) people in charge doesn't have a clue about what's right and wrong in the world of software development - they however are in charge and do prefer shiny new stuff rather than a Powerpoint filled with techstuff which are very sexy if (and only if) you are a software developer.

Nothing good comes to he who waits. Be aggressive and argue your case to ensure that it is your concept and strategy which will lay the foundation of a new IT-infrastructure

Plan an internal plumbing-strategy to refactor old technical debts to a more smooth and agile solution. Focus on the most basic principles and stick to them. Get used to release often - in the wakening of a new organization waterfall strategies are doomed to fail miserably so you will have to be able to deliver quickly as Product Owners find themselves in the process of getting to know your new organization.

- People before you have lost wars because they won the wrong battles. Don't spend time upgrading your backend support system even if it sucks and lacks basic features - you can be pretty sure that a new one from another company will be planned for in a new organization. It sucks, right? And you argue your cause, so you have the arguments ready to convince the new IT-boss that the system should be discontinued in a new organization. Your frustrations will end on a specified date - don't waste precious time on upgrades if they will not survive the birth of a new organization

Be agile! (can you see the yellow glow above my head?). Don't expect anybody to be able to answer questions about the future so get used to living in a world of chaos. Be pleasantly surprised if you get guaranties and precise directions but don't be overly disappointed if people fail to answer to your frustrations. They don't fail because they want to displease you - they simply does not have authority or plain out doesn't know any better than you do.

Regards Kristian

onsdag den 18. juni 2008

The infamous Save() method

We (a collegue and myself) had a little infight a few days ago during a pairprogramming session - I advocated for having all Save() methods being void and parameterless whereas he didn't see any problems in having them returning objects and/or taking input parameters at will.

I couldn't at that time argue my case except that I saw this as a violation of the SoC (Separation of Concerns) principle - and why force the consumer to handle a return value if the consumer doesn't need to have one? The discussion grew a little ugly at some point but yesterday just before leaving the office we talked it over again.

It turned out that my collegue's experienced with TDD for various reasons has not been overly positive - having to figure TDD out for yourself without having some sort of experienced mentor inhouse will lead to frustration in 95% of all cases once you try to use TDD in a real-world scenario. We argued about having a signature of Save() methods in general and I understood my own reservations when we discussed what would happen once the signature of the Save() method changed because we i.e. wanted to introduce a new parameter in a call to Save() - example:

public void Save(string a, string b, int c)
{ ... }

was to be extended with:

public void Save(string a, string b, int c, List d)
{ ... }

What happened in his mind was that the compiler would burp on all places where the Save(a, b, c) was used so you had to change the code of your tests in all places.

What happened in my mind was that you had to change all working tests using the infamous Save() method because you changed a single signature of a method. This is bad because

1: The time spent maintaining your tests should be kept at a minimum
2: You could be mislead to work around changes in your model to avoid having to alter your tests to reflect that change - and THAT should ring the alarmbell.

1: Having simple method signatures should be a goal in itself to avoid breaking the code of your tests when you want to introduce new functionality and parameters which needs to be carried around in your application.

2: Do use objects to carry around parameters for you. Less code is needed and the readability of your code is much higher. Having i.e. an object carrying 10 primitives around your model is much more extensible than having to extend every class with a property for param #11.

You should not be afraid of having "dead" objects in your model and view which can only contain data. They are keeping the numbers of properties and overloaded methods in your application to a minimum :o)

Related articles:

TDD antipatterns (I don't agree to every one of these but it is a good checklist)

This guy suggests best-practises for API design:
How to design good API's

torsdag den 12. juni 2008

Inversion of Control article

I finally found an article which explains the IoC concept and value of using an IoC framework. I think I grasped the concept quite a while ago but what the value of this IoC thingy was remained unexplained to me...

onsdag den 11. juni 2008

The Pareto Principle

Did you know that the 80/20 rule is also known as the Pareto Principle? I sure didn't ;o)

Check it out on Wikipedia

/ Kristian