Wednesday, 11 March 2009
Do you care about the quality of your work as a software developer? Do you strive to produce the best software you can for your clients or employer? I don't mean basic level "does it work?" kind of quality — I hope we all aim to produce code that works. Does it matter to you if the code is well-crafted? Do you strive to write elegant software? Do you actively work to improve your skills as a developer?
There's been a lot of discussion about software quality on the internet recently. Uncle Bob, Joel Spolsky and Jeff Atwood got involved in the "Quality doesn't matter" debate, culminating in Uncle Bob talking on Jeff and Joel's Stack Overflow Podcast. James Bach even went as far as to hypothesise that Quality is Dead.
James has a point: in many instances it seems that people are quite happy to tolerate buggy software that's "good enough", and that developers are quite happy to ship such software. We're not perfect, and we will write code with bugs in, but to a large extent it's the attitude that counts. Whilst I accept that there may well be bugs in my code, I strive to avoid them, work hard to fix any that are found, and try and learn ways of reducing their occurrence in future. I also feel that software should be well-crafted so that it doesn't just work now, but will continue to work as it evolves, and such evolution should be as easy as possible. Of course, there's more to software quality than that — quality is Value to Some Person, and your job as a software developer is to ensure that your clients, customers or employers get the things that they value from the software you develop.
If this is something you feel strongly about, rest assured that you're not alone — there are many others who feel that Quality is Alive, to the extent that a few developers have got together to draft a Manifesto for Software Craftsmanship. The manifesto has over 1500 signatures (including mine) — why not add yours?
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