Happy Are The Software Engineers.. (article)

My first ever published article is called "Happy Are The Software Engineers.." and it appeared in Better Software magazine in December 2006. The article describes briefly how complete concentration can create the feeling of happiness especially if the task at hand is meaningful. I wanted to highlight that working for software quality is meaningful and with Tick-the-Code you can achieve complete concentration.

Simply put, happiness is Tick-the-Code.

Tick-the-Code Inspection: Theory and Practice (paper)

My first ever scientific paper is called "Tick-the-Code Inspection: Theory and Practice" and it appeared in the peer-reviewed publication of ASQ (American Society for Quality) called Software Quality Professional.

As the name says, the paper reveals all details of Tick-the-Code up to the 24 coding rules. At the moment this paper is the most comprehensive written source for information about Tick-the-Code.

Tick-the-Code Inspection: Empirical Evidence (on Effectiveness) (paper)

My second paper is called Tick-the-Code Inspection: Empirical Evidence (on Effectiveness). It was prepared for, and first presented at, Pacific Northwest Software Quality Conference 2007. The paper presents measurements taken in Tick-the-Code training courses so far (about 50 sessions with over 300 software professionals). The results are revealing. The main point of the paper is that software engineers could keep their software much simpler and avoid making many of the errors software projects are so notorious for.

In the Appendix of the paper, you'll find all the active rules of Tick-the-Code at the time of writing (summer 2007).

Tick-the-Code - traditionally novel technique in the fight against bugs (article)

Pirkanmaan Tietojenkäsittely-yhdistys (Pitky ry) published my article in their member magazine Pitkyn Piiri 1/2008. It is called "Tick-the-Code - uusvanha tekniikka taistelussa bugeja vastaan" and it is only available in Finnish.

An Example Rule Introduced

There are 24 active rules in Tick-the-Code. Each one of them helps to locate either omissions, redundancies, ambiguities, inconsistencies or assumptions in the source code. Individual rule violations might seem minor, but when you let them accumulate long enough, you'll be in trouble.

Marked rule violations are called ticks. Try the following rule on your production-level code and see how many ticks you can find. Then analyze each tick and see if you can't improve the maintainability of your code.

The rule sample changes weekly, so in a mere 24 weeks of diligent visits, you can have yourself the complete set of Tick-the-Code rules. However, there is an easier way and you'll be rewarded with laminated rule cards to top it all up. Get trained! Contact Qualiteers if you want to know more.


"Forbidden: marker comments."

A marker comment is typically a reminder that something is not finished yet. Production code must have no forgotten reminders in it. Look for comments like /*TODO*/ or /*username*/ to find violations.

A real-life comment example: /* This isn't quite correct but because it is Friday afternoon, I will fix it on Monday. */

The comment was at least two years old.

Future Work

Tick-the-Code Inspection: The Book (book, working title)

Since 2006, there's a book on Tick-the-Code on the works. Currently the book project is on ice, as I study and gather more material and field experiences to include in the book. The book will be the most comprehensive written source on Tick-the-Code.

Excerpt from the book

The excerpt changes weekly. Each excerpt is still a draft version and might change before ending in the book.

No markings

Checkers who make no markings while checking are asking for trouble. Their behavior necessitates personal communication with the author. The checker has to explain whatever findings he remembers to the author, there is no alternative. Personal communication is one of the best ways to avoid and clear misunderstandings, especially if done with frankly and openly, but it is good to have alternatives. As we'll see in the next section, Suboptimal Feedback, written feedback using a standardized form can be much more effective in communicating the defects to the author than verbal communication.

Why would you disregard the importance of defects so as to not make any markings? You could be aiming too low (3 findings instead of 30) and trying to remember the findings without markings. Unmarked findings don't contribute to a remarkable code inspection. Some of the unmarked findings will inevitably be lost as you cannot remember all your findings.

The reason for not marking can be unclear guidance. If you aren't clearly instructed that you are supposed to mark everything - and by the dozen -, you might think that just a few findings will be sufficient. You certainly haven't internalized the Plentiful Principle.

A part of Chapter 2. "Symptoms" are things that can go wrong with code inspections. In other words, an organization that is conducting code inspections might not be getting all it could from them because of reasons like the one above.

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