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.

DRY

"A comment must not repeat code."

Don't Repeat Yourself (or your code) in comments. It can only lead to maintenance problems.

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.

Organizations Grind to a Halt

Moving higher to a level, where lifeless, overly busy teams are managed as an organization, the effects of busyness appear differently. For quite awhile, the teams produce bad code before anybody on the organizational level notices. Because nobody is proud of their doings, the teams are trying to hide as best they can and nobody on the organizational level can react. At some point, however, possibly months down the line, somebody does notice. The backlog of errors has grown beyond reason. There is no way this can go on. "We probably should do a complete organizational makeover, but we shouldn't jeopardize the upcoming product releases. Let's just have the teams quickly fix more errors, so the products can get to market. After this critical phase we can do it right."

The high management decrees that the next incremental release is not allowed to have any new functionality in it, all changes need to be bug fixes. The teams get to work on this "quality release" and the high management is happy with the quickly decreasing number of errors in the error database. In effect, the productivity - addition of new functionality over time - goes to zero for the release for the complete organization. Nobody is producing anything new. Everybody is just catching-up on tasks that should have been finished already and were reported as done. Unfortunately, you cannot just "inject quality" into the system. Fixing most open errors temporarily clears the error database, but it doesn't solve the root cause behind the symptom. As the root cause remains unsolved, the teams and the individuals in the teams will go back to their old ways of working after this temporary focus on bug fixing. Sooner or later the cycle repeats.

The Vicious Circle of Busyness is an important concept in Chapter 3. "Root Causes". In this excerpt, we look at it from the highest possible point-of-view. Individuals and teams get caught up in the circle. When the contaminationn is widespread enough, organizations get caught up too. The situation isn't as hopeless as it sounds. If your organization is held hostage by the Vicious Circle of Busyness, i.e. the high management is pressing the panic button every now and then before reorganizing you, Tick-the-Code can help you. With it you don't need to skimp on quality to save time, with Tick-the-Code you'll be saving time while improving quality.

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