97 Things Every Programmer Should Know

(Chris Devlin) #1

(^94) 97 Things Every Programmer Should Know

Know Your

Next Commit

Dan Bergh Johnsson

they were doing. “I am refactoring these methods,” the first answered. “I am
adding some parameters to this web action,” the second answered. The third
answered, “I am working on this user story.”

It might seem that the first two were engrossed in the details of their work,
while only the third could see the bigger picture, and that he had the better
focus. However, when I asked when and what they would commit, the picture
changed dramatically. The first two were pretty clear about what files would be
involved, and would be finished within an hour or so. The third programmer
answered, “Oh, I guess I will be ready within a few days. I will probably add a
few classes and might change those services in some way.”

The first two did not lack a vision of the overall goal. They had selected tasks
they thought led in a productive direction, and could be finished within a
couple of hours. Once they had finished those tasks, they would select a new
feature or refactoring to work on. All the code written was thus done with a
clear purpose and a limited, achievable goal in mind.

The third programmer had not been able to decompose the problem and was
working on all aspects at once. He had no idea of what it would take, basi-
cally doing speculative programming, hoping to arrive at some point where he
would be able to commit. Most probably, the code written at the start of this
long session was poorly matched for the solution that came out in the end.

Free download pdf