Tuesday 14 April 2015

Some thoughts on Software Development: Stack Overflow, Maslow, Trello and The Joel Test

Think of the following as "Amuse-bouches" or Canapés (why don't we have words in English for this) i.e. rather than something specifically actionable, a set of loosely themed ideas ...

Stack Overflow

Voltaire said: if God did not exist it would be necessary to invent [him], so if Stack Overflow did not exist, it would be necessary to invent it.

Don't worry unduly if you've not heard of Stack Overflow - well unless you're in the business of writing software, in which case tremble mightily. As far as software engineers are concerned, Stack Overflow is the 7th layer of the 5 layer Maslow Hierarchy of Needs 

(You've seen the updated 6 layer model with WiFi, right?)

When writing software one often gets stuck, wonders what to do and Stack Overflow is the place to turn to. You find that you're not alone; that people have faced this problem before and that there are 12 different and inconsistent, often wrong, answers to your problem. It makes a massive difference and helps modern engineering productivity hugely.


Actually I'm not here to talk about Stack Overflow, I want to mention Joel Spolsky. As well as being the co-creator of Stack Overflow he also is responsible for Trello. "Drop the lengthy email threads, out-of-date spreadsheets, no-longer-so-sticky notes, and clunky software for managing your projects. Trello lets you see everything about your project in a single glance."

Not using Trello for organising your company? Consider it. It's not for geeks, it's for real people. Read Joel about the success story behind this technology start-up and in particular take note of his discussion of investors in Trello.

The Joel Test

Trello isn't what I want to talk about either, you can check it out for yourself. What I'm here to talk about and what I've finally got round to mentioning is The Joel Test: 12 Steps to Better Code - which is a "highly irresponsible, sloppy test to rate the quality of a software team".

It was written in 2000. A really, really long time ago, and in part it is showing signs of its age. Have a look at it and adapt it to your circumstances. If you're not writing code yourself, think about it as a source of questions for people who write software for you, or who want to write software for you.



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