My Adventures in Coding

March 5, 2008

Better Software No Matter What

Filed under: Agile,Design Principles,Refactoring,SD West 2008 — Brian @ 7:46 pm

The talk from Scott Meyers was excellent. He is a great speaker and really understands the root issues that lead to many quality issues in software. Mark has already posted some comments, so I will just touch on a few common issues Scott kept stressing time and time again.

One of the basic principles of developing quality software is consistency, from the UI to the code and even the unit tests.

Without consistency you will never be moving toward quality software. One of the ways to go about doing this is to provide developers with a set of guidelines and best practices. If developers are not given this guidance they will each develop code and unit tests as they feel the tests should be done, which is fine, but will never result in consistency. To be able to move towards consistency provide the development team with guidelines for: code styles, naming conventions, unit test layout, refactoring standards, etc.

The point he stressed was the most important of all, above everything else is “Interfaces must be easy to use correctly, but difficult to use incorrectly”. He was talking about not just user interfaces, but all the way down through the classes, the methods, the APIs, etc. If the interface is not clear then you have failed to fix the number one issue. If the user interface is confusing, users will leave, if the code is hard to understand, developers will be less inclined to refactor and instead will make the smallest change possible every time which will lead the project further and further from being quality software.

The afternoon talk from Scott Meyers was just as good as the morning talk. I have to say that his talk is one of the most useful presentations I have ever attended, including conferences I have been to in the past. Scott Meyers really knows a lot about software quality and explains it well in his talk. He stresses in the talk about how ALL bugs are an embarrassment, not just big issues but even minor issues that are considered “cosmetic” and often ignored. Minor issues are often the ones that do not prevent a user from performing the task they wish to do, but are enough to cause annoyance and frustration which does not create a good impression of the product.


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