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LPW2011 : abigail’s “Business Aware Developer” talk

by on Nov.13, 2011, under Perl

I caught abigail’s “Business Aware Developer” talk yesterday at the London Perl Workshop 2011.

Overall, I think it was a good talk, and raised some good points, even if the “you don’t always have to write tests, write them only if they provide value” is a little controversial with some of the audience, leading to a reasonable amount of debate and running late with the talk so having to skip some slides.

Personally, I agree to some degree – I think some people write tests simply to push up their test coverage figure, without really writing tests which are likely to catch bugs (exercising the code in both expected and unexpected ways, providing strange input and edge cases (does it blow up if given undef or a ref, say).

However, I do think a fair amount of the talk is summed up by advice given to me by a boss at work, Ditlev, with regards to getting stuff out – sometimes you have to “launch crap but launch” – sometimes code that works well enough to be put into use and making money for you can be more valuable than taking longer to produce better quality code – which may be nicer and better to work with in the future, but isn’t ready to launch now. In other words, examining the trade-off between quick results now, and better quality code which becomes more valuable later – but “what if later never comes?”.

The impression I took away from the talk, which might be a misconception, is that Booking.com don’t do code reviews or refactoring, which would seriously put me off applying for a position there – I think code review in particular (even if just casual – it needn’t be a formal procedure) is very valuable to push yourself to be a better coder. If you know other members of the team are going to be glancing over your commits when they have time and pointing at bits you could have done better, that’s a good motivation to write good code, and also often helps you realise other ways you could have done things.

I’d be interested in seeing the other slides which abigail had to skip over, but I haven’t been able to find them anywhere online.

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1 Comment for this entry

  • dams

    Indeed, from what I’ve heard, Booking doesn’t do tests. They test their software on part of the production servers, but they can quickly come back to a previous version. As for refactoring, I’m not sure, but the fact that they insist on running older Perl (5.8 I think) is some indication.

    This way of doing can give good results, but then it’s a matter of taste.

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