November 23, 2008

...Learn TDD with Codemanship

Craftsmanship On Stage. In The Booking Software? Not So Much...

I had a timely reminder about the value of software craftsmanship yesterday when I tried to book tickets online for a production of Noises Off at the New Wimbledon Theatre.

I found the page for the show. Clicked the "Book Now" link. Selected the date and time of the performance I wanted. And was then directed to a page where I was supposed to select seats.

Did I want Stalls A for 27.50? Or would I prefer Stalls B for 22?

Or perhaps Dress Circle A for 27.50? Or Dress Circle B, or C? Or maybe something in the Upper Circle for just 15?

I have never been inside the New Wimbledon Theatre, so I only a very vague idea of where these seating areas were and what kind of views they might offer.

So I thought I'd better check that out before continuing with my booking. So I clicked the Back button on my browser until I reached their homer page again, and the followed the links to get a detailed seating plan. Once I'd satisfied myself that the 22.50 seats in Stalls B would be perfectly adequate (I know, I'm a cheap date) I started the booking process again.

Which the people who wrote the code behind those particular .aspx pages obviously hadn't planned for. Because it made their web site go Bye-Bye. What actually happened is it caused some kind of SQL Server row-level deadlock. I can only imagine what manner of C# and SQL nastiness had been writ behind that pleasant facade (okay, so in my book all SQL is nasty).

What really tickled me is that, when I phoned their box office to book the old-fashioned way (i.e., get someone at the end of a telephone to operate the software), the very helpful lady hit another software problem and had to back out of the transaction twice before we hit third time lucky.

The play was excellent, by the way. This production stars Maggie Steed and Colin Baker (who really was the 6th Doctor Who) - two very fine theatre and TV actors - and I was genuinely laughing out loud throughout the second and final acts. It's a very clever and very funny play, and the performances were spot on. Lots of visual gags and stunts that they must have rehearsed for days and days to get the timing so lickety-split.

Now that's what I call craftsmanship!

Posted 12 years, 6 months ago on November 23, 2008