Two practical software engineering rules

There are so many huge books which introduce software engineering, and in this article, I want to share two practical rules which are based on my own experience.

(1) No fear of refactoring

As time goes on, refactoring code is inevitable: the original design can’t handle current situation seamlessly; we can use the new characteristics of programming language to polish existed code, etc. Since refactoring code is time-consuming, risking, and costly, many companies are reluctant to do it for some reasons. Whereas the refactoring is beneficial to both company and engineers literally.

For companies: After refactorig, the code should become more reasonable and easier-maintainable, and the consequence is that it will save you much time and cost to add new features. For engineers: refactoring code can let you be more familiar with the the code logic, try using new characteristics of programming language and practice module design skills, and it is a precious opportunity to enrich yourself. So in the long run, refactoring code is a win-win situation actually. ( If the software quality becomes worse, oh boy! Don’t refactor it!)

(2) “Real” peer-to-peer code review

I haven’t experienced pair-programming, but took part in many “fake” peer-to-peer code review: before reviewing, the reviewer didn’t read code before. During the reviewing, the code author needed to spell out what was the intention of this code, then the reviewer would analyze the code on the spot. It seemed the reviewer and code author were very busy in the review meeting, but in fact it was a totally time-wasting and inefficient!

From my viewpoint, there should be two maintainers for any software module, and the two maintainers have the same familiarity of code. No matter adding a new big feature or just fixing a small bug, the two maintainers should co-work the whole design flow in advance, then if the task is small, one maintainer can take over the whole work, otherwise they can share it. Since everybody has took part in the discussion before, he/she can review partner’s code alone. This method can avoid misleading by code author, saving time, and finding bug efficiently. The potential benefit for company is if one guy resigns, there is no loss because there is always another engineer who is an genuine backup.

These two rules seem feasible? Why not give them a shot?

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