Happy Are The Software Engineers.. (article)

My first ever published article is called "Happy Are The Software Engineers.." and it appeared in Better Software magazine in December 2006. The article describes briefly how complete concentration can create the feeling of happiness especially if the task at hand is meaningful. I wanted to highlight that working for software quality is meaningful and with Tick-the-Code you can achieve complete concentration.

Simply put, happiness is Tick-the-Code.

Tick-the-Code Inspection: Theory and Practice (paper)

My first ever scientific paper is called "Tick-the-Code Inspection: Theory and Practice" and it appeared in the peer-reviewed publication of ASQ (American Society for Quality) called Software Quality Professional.

As the name says, the paper reveals all details of Tick-the-Code up to the 24 coding rules. At the moment this paper is the most comprehensive written source for information about Tick-the-Code.

Tick-the-Code Inspection: Empirical Evidence (on Effectiveness) (paper)

My second paper is called Tick-the-Code Inspection: Empirical Evidence (on Effectiveness). It was prepared for, and first presented at, Pacific Northwest Software Quality Conference 2007. The paper presents measurements taken in Tick-the-Code training courses so far (about 50 sessions with over 300 software professionals). The results are revealing. The main point of the paper is that software engineers could keep their software much simpler and avoid making many of the errors software projects are so notorious for.

In the Appendix of the paper, you'll find all the active rules of Tick-the-Code at the time of writing (summer 2007).

Tick-the-Code - traditionally novel technique in the fight against bugs (article)

Pirkanmaan Tietojenkäsittely-yhdistys (Pitky ry) published my article in their member magazine Pitkyn Piiri 1/2008. It is called "Tick-the-Code - uusvanha tekniikka taistelussa bugeja vastaan" and it is only available in Finnish.

An Example Rule Introduced

There are 24 active rules in Tick-the-Code. Each one of them helps to locate either omissions, redundancies, ambiguities, inconsistencies or assumptions in the source code. Individual rule violations might seem minor, but when you let them accumulate long enough, you'll be in trouble.

Marked rule violations are called ticks. Try the following rule on your production-level code and see how many ticks you can find. Then analyze each tick and see if you can't improve the maintainability of your code.

The rule sample changes weekly, so in a mere 24 weeks of diligent visits, you can have yourself the complete set of Tick-the-Code rules. However, there is an easier way and you'll be rewarded with laminated rule cards to top it all up. Get trained! Contact Qualiteers if you want to know more.

MAGIC (WARM-UP)

"Do not hardcode values."

Hardcoded values are literal numbers, single characters, and plain character strings within code. For example, 100, 79, 0xFF, 'b', and "invalid value" are hardcoded. Hardcoded values make the maintenance of the code unnecessarily complicated. When hardcoded values are given good descriptive names, several benefits appear.

The code becomes easier to read and understand. It is also possible to show, which values are related to each other and which aren't. Maintainability grows.

Future Work

Tick-the-Code Inspection: The Book (book, working title)

Since 2006, there's a book on Tick-the-Code on the works. Currently the book project is on ice, as I study and gather more material and field experiences to include in the book. The book will be the most comprehensive written source on Tick-the-Code.

Excerpt from the book

The excerpt changes weekly. Each excerpt is still a draft version and might change before ending in the book.

Too late

There are bad reasons not to release a module to a code inspection, too. Perfectionist authors are never satisfied with their code and would tweak it forever if allowed. There's always something to improve but after the module reaches a certain maturity level the value of the tweaks becomes minimal. After that point the feedback from several checkers overweighs the value of improvements the author can make alone. In a dysfunctional organization, prima-donna authors never have their source code checked voluntarily. They always hold on to their work until it is too late to do anything about them.

This is one of the things that can go wrong in running code inspections. If authors are allowed to hold on to their work too long, they will not get the full benefit of early code inspections. Instead they might receive a lot of feedback and not have any time to do anything about it. Lack of time is not a good reason to ignore error removal. Chapter 2 "Symptoms" presents several situations where something goes wrong in code inspections.

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