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.

SIMPLE

"Code must be simple."

Simple code is easier to maintain than complex code is. Fight complexity with this rule. Code that could be written more simply violates this rule. Use with care.

If you think there is a simpler, more readable way to express a piece of code, mark the code with this rule. Be prepared to defend your "hunch" should the author not be able to find a simpler solution on his own. Never push your own "better" solution before being asked to.

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.

Brain-intensive

Sometimes we use high-tech tools instead of our brain. Sometimes the tools are helping too much. There are many tools that perform static analysis, for example. Luckily, ticking the code still needs the human brain. Humans can find things static analysis tools can't. Rules that require understanding are only for software developers to find. All of the rules require paying attention, most of the rules require thinking, which makes Tick-the-Code Inspection a brain-intensive activity.

The intellectual investment needed for a proper ticking is very rewarding. Putting in enough thought power uncovers often surprising violations in source code that at first glance looks just like any other piece of code. The good conscience that follows a ticking properly done is mental fuel for the rest of day. At least you managed to do something right today.

Tick-the-Code is a low-tech approach to code review. It is brain-intensive, focus-inducing and counterintuitive. We could even say that it is taking you back-to-basics, to the grass-root level of the source code. Tick-the-Code is heavy as paper and result-driven. It is at times purely mechanical and sometimes heuristic, all the time puzzling and at best creativity-inspiring. Ticking code free from the shackles of technology can be therapeutic and at the same time both arming and disarming. It is all these things and more.

It can be helpful to describe what Tick-the-Code is not. It isn't reactive. You can't automate it and it isn't just for beginners.

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