November 27, 2016

...Learn TDD with Codemanship

Software Craftsmanship is a Requirements Discipline

After the smoke and thunder of the late noughties software craftsmanship movement had cleared, with all its talk of masters and apprentices and "beautiful code", we got to see what code craft was really all about.

At its heart, crafting high quality code is about leaving it open to change. In essence, software craftsmanship is a requirements discipline; specifically, enabling us to keep responding to new requirements, so that customers can learn from using our software and the product can be continually improved.

Try as we might to build the right thing first time, by far the most valuable thing we can do for our customers is allow them to change their minds. Iterating is the ultimate requirements discipline. So much value lies in empirical feedback, as opposed to the untested hypotheses of requirements specifications.

Crafting code to minimise barriers to change helps us keep feedback cycles short, which maximises customer learning. And it helps us to maintain the pace of innovation for longer, effectively giving the customer more "throws of the dice" at the same price before the game is over.

It just so happens that things that make code harder to change also tend to make it less reliable (easier to break) - code that's harder to understand, code that's more complex, code that's full of duplication, code that's highly interdependent, code that can't be re-tested quickly and cheaply, etc.

And it just so happens that writing code that's easy to change - to a point (that most teams never reach) - is also typically quicker and cheaper.

Software craftsmanship can create a virtuous circle: code that's more open to change, which also makes it more reliable, and helps us deliver value sooner and for longer. It's a choice that sounds like a no-brainer. And, couched in those terms, it should be an easy sell. Why would a team choose to deliver buggier software, later, at a higher cost, with less opportunity to improve it in the next release?

The answer is: skills and investment. But that's a whole other blog post!

Posted 4 years, 5 months ago on November 27, 2016