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Issue 8.2


Why We Fail

Exploring the culture of software development failure

Issue: 8.2 (January/February 2010)
Author: Jens Bendig
Author Bio: Jens Bendig has been writing code since the 1980s. Later he learned what it meant to develop software. Much later he learned to write good code. He has seen projects fail and tries to recover and learn from that. Meet him on Facebook!
Article Description: No description available.
Article Length (in bytes): 9,407
Starting Page Number: 13
Article Number: 8208
Related Link(s): None

Excerpt of article text...

An application has three demands: performance, usability, and readability. Teams work on performance and on usability, but not on readability. The reason lies in the different pressure on those demands by the users, developers, and managers on the one hand, plus a phenomenon I call "inverse perception." As long as we developers don't increase the pressure on readability, the inner quality of our code will stay poor.

Importance of readability

So what? Why is readability so important? If the software has no bugs and runs fast and can be delivered in time, why moan? The point is that poor readability will require a bigger effort during the next iteration. And again for the iteration after that, plus the unreadable code we produce with that new iteration, and so on. We make the current iteration cheaper while increasing the costs of future iterations. In the discussion of global economics this phenomenon is called a lack of sustainability. Within the world of software developing, it's often not even seen as a problem.

In the following article I will try to explain how this happens.

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