Code, Angular, iOS and more by Aviv Ben-Yosef

Stop Apologizing for Your Code

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Have a habit of apologizing for your code before showing it to someone else? You’re doing it wrong.

I’ve been the only TDDer in my team for about a year now. When I just joined the team, my TDD ways were looked at as a weird fad. Nevertheless, I kept working in my ways, know that, at least for me, it works best.

Working like that can be very frustrating. You make sure your code is clean, well tested and refactored. Then comes along someone that makes a small change and your tests no longer cover that part of the code. You open up some other part of the system, see bad code and though you try to follow the boy-scout rule, you can’t because you’d need to harness 10 computers and a goat to test the code in its current state.

A few months ago I asked Uncle Bob what is a programmer to do in such a situation. His response:

It’s frustrating and difficult. But what choice do you have? All you can do is keep at it. Shame the others by keeping to your disciplines.

And boy was he right. As months passed, and people glancing over saw me running hundreds of tests in a second and being able to make quick changes without fear (or very little), I noticed a weird pattern.

Whenever people asked me to lend them a hand with a piece of code, the presentation of the code started with a disclaimer: “Never mind how ugly it is”, and “I know it looks bad”.

At first, my ego always happy to boast, I took it as a compliment. Later, it dawned on me that it’s not that my code looks like pure prose simply because it’s TDDed.

What that apologizing means is “I’m sorry I don’t care about the code as much you do”. Uncle Bob was right, people were actually ashamed. Sounds weird right? But then again, if you do care, why haven’t you removed the need to apologize after the second time?

Get out of this shame-phase. Being ashamed means you care, do something with it. The next step is simply making the code cleaner. Some of my team-mates have already started down the enlightened path.

Remember, coding is a social activity. When you disrespect the code, you disrespect your friends. When you rock on, you all enjoy. As a wise man said, keep working on your code till you’re ready to project the code onto the wall for the whole team to see.

And if you’re in my shoes, keep it up. Sometimes all it takes is a little push.

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