Spa 2008 (Day 1.5)

So I got to SPA yesterday afternoon, but this is my first day proper.

The sessions are longer than at other conferences I’ve been to, which allows for more depth. I’ve been to three today:
– Code Debt (Workshop)
– Is Software Practice Advancing? (Panel Discussion)
– Real Options (Workshop)

The evening is ensuing with more BoF sessions, so there’s no rest!

Code Debt

The Code Debt session was an excellent workshop run by Peter Marks and David Harvey, focussing on techniques for teaching teams to recognise compromises in code quality.

We played a great exercise with two different code bases which clearly illustrated how much easier it is to change high quality code. I won’t detail it here in case I want to play it with you some day.

We looked at some real code (from some apache buffering thing) and tried to categorise the debts that we saw into
– Comprehensibility
– Simplicity (lack of baggage)
– Conceptual Integrity
– Behavioural Integrity

We also worked through a ‘forensic accounting’ audit which looked at how the two codebases we’d used in the first excercise evolved to the state they were in, clearly showing how a series of apparently insignificant design choices quickly combine to leave the code in very different places.

As David pointed out, the ‘debt’ term and metaphor is probably much more powerful than the traditional ‘smell’ in how well it communicates to management types.

We finished in groups, trying to identify the practices that we can use to fight the emergence of these different kinds of debts. They should be documented here eventually.

Real Options

Very good workshop adding more concepts around the deferring of decisions. Read more here

Published by Matt

I write software, and love learning how to do it even better.

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