Perspectives on Software Engineering

Dated Jun 6, 2022; last modified on Sat, 11 Jun 2022

On the Clean Code Movement

Good enough is good enough. The architectural choices and bugs in the implementation tend to be more impactful, so focus more on those.

Be conservative in what you consider technical debt. It should be something that slows down current/future changes, and not code that doesn’t “feel nice”. A code base that is free if technical debt is likely over-emphasizing polish over delivery.

Abstractions and indirections in the name of future-proofing tend to be wrong especially when treading new paths, where you can’t reliably predict the future. A lot of value is in knowing the design guidelines well enough, that you know when/if to deviate to better suit the current problem.

Code history can be used to determine hot spots (which tend to be updated frequently and therefore should be clean and well-abstracted) and the long tail (where we can take shortcuts without much cost).

uses CodeScene , which has hotspot detection and code-health metrics, and can be integrated into CI pipelines. It has a free edition for publicly available repositories. The pro version is €27 per active dev per month.

Code Contributions from Senior Devs

Being a senior dev takes more than just programming prowess. Other skills are communication, defining the problem, dependency management, sharing context, project management, estimation, collaborating with non-dev peers, etc..

Re: experienced devs drafting the approach, and leaving it to the junior devs to write the actual code. The senior dev might not have enough coding time, that their inconsistent coding efforts are harmful to the project. Reviewing the resulting PRs is more impactful.

The skill of experienced devs is far more helpful when it can be applied to large parts of the code-base, and hence the meetings get folks on the same page. However, companies may tend to being overly bureaucratic that communication quantity is overstated.

Misc

Aim to be in a supportive team. The feedback (e.g. in code reviews) will accelerate your learning by a lot compared to coding on your own.

Over-documenting tends to lead to staleness. Tests or other forms of automation are less likely to go out of sync with the actual code.

References

  1. 7 Absolute Truths I Unlearned as Junior Developer. Monica Lent. monicalent.com . Jun 3, 2019. Accessed Jun 6, 2022.
  2. Absolute truths I unlearned as junior developer (2019) | Hacker News. news.ycombinator.com . Accessed Jun 6, 2022.
  3. Why I Write Dirty Code: Code quality in context. Adam Tornhill. www.adamtornhill.com . 2019. Accessed Jun 9, 2022.