Taking one for the team
An article by
For: Programming Concepts
We, as “computer geeks” have a certain romantic (Yes, I used the words, “computer geeks” and “romantic” in the same sentence, please don’t let it shock you too much.) misconception placed upon us. The world at large tends to view us as lone wolves, a breed apart like the rogue scholars of old, sweating away in the dark attempting to wrest greater knowledge and accomplishments from a world that few sane people understand. We, through our seemingly arcane knowledge of the murky realms of code have been made into lonely wizards, jealously guarding our secrets from the interlopers who try to steal them from our hands, cold with the chill of the basements where we surely all lurk. We know this to be untrue, of course. The truth is that very few programmers and IT specialists can do EVERYTHING. Eventually, no matter how much it turns our stomachs to consider it, we must work with others. The real question is how something like this is accomplished. What is different about working in a team compared to the sweet nectar of loneliness broken by occasional 16 hour breaks to play World of War craft? It comes down to one thing, courtesy.
We aren’t really famous for our courtesy. We are, after all the same group that created internet trolls and the same regressives that inhabit 4chan.org and its infamous /b/ random board. The conception we have drawn around us is that we are snarky, growling, rabid individualists who desire only to destroy those who are disgusted by what delights us. The truth is no one is like this in the real world. It is only the fact that we are hidden by the masks of anonymity that allows us to create such atrocities. When people have to see our faces and hear our voices we tend to be a much more civil bunch, which is why most of us can work anywhere. That is right, we can be taught courtesy and we can apply it when we have to, we guess. Here are some areas where courtesy applies when creating professional code.
First off we must be prepared to slow down a little bit. Creating courteous code is not as fast or efficient as creating code that only you will be required to work on. This is why we must practice courteous coding from the start. If we do it out of habit we won’t suddenly have to adjust our styles to accomplish it later, thus losing precious work time re-editing what we’ve already coded.
Writing courteous code requires a few things. It must be readable by all who work upon it. Not everyone is going to want to swim through long streams of code placed haphazardly all over the place just so they can figure out where to pick things up. Use line breaks, proper tabbing and consider the feelings and eyesight of other when you code in a group. Also agree upon and stick to a naming convention. This also allows everyone to stay on the same page and work together easily. We will also need to agree on what functionality to work with. Not every coder is as advanced as every other coder, and if a member of a team has to learn a new functionality it may cost the team precious time. Lastly we must remember to comment our code. Again this is just common courtesy. Explaining what each line of code does goes a long way to helping each member of the team write a cohesive piece of code that functions as it is supposed to.
We must remember that we are working in a team and that we must be held to a team standard. We should be prepared for frequent meetings and sanity checks so that we can be kept on point and so that each member’s code can be reviewed and adjusted for the good of the team. We must be prepared to hear both positive and negative things about our code and to change it so that the project can move forward.
(DWC, 2009) We must also learn to keep our lines of communication open in other ways and always be prepared to receive feedback and suggestions from our team members. We must remember that this isn’t just our code, it is the code of everyone involved in the team and that we all succeed or fail together. (eLocal listing staff writer, 2009) Let us all try to succeed; despite the image the world projects upon us. That having been said, now it’s time to get back to raiding that Tauren camp.
DWC. (2009, May 25). How do you enforce coding standards on your team. Retrieved July 20, 2011, from stack overflow.com: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/906924/how-do-you-enforce-coding-standards-in-your-team
eLocal listing staff writer. (2009, March 15). Building development team communication. Retrieved July 20, 2011, from eLocal listing: http://www.elocaldevblog.com/building-development-team-communication/
Parsons, B. (2008, August 25). 5 things to remember when coding in a team. Retrieved July 20, 2011, from Do as I say, not as I do.: http://geekswithblogs.net/PTrippett/archive/2008/08/25/5-things-to-remeber-when-coding-in-a-team.aspx