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.


"Setter must check the value for validity."

It is often possible to know in advance what kind of values are allowed and expected for a variable. The access routine setting a new value - the setter - should check the value as thoroughly as it can, at least during development.

Catching unexpected values as soon as they are inserted makes locating the cause of the error faster and easier. If the validity checks prove to be too much for performance reasons (measure!) in the product, they can be turned off. It makes sense to think about validity checking even if it turns out not to be possible. Checking even for a rough range can help.

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.


If the code inspection process isn't part of the software development routine, you aren't reaping optimal benefits with it. Inspection is like a cloud, it always has a silver-lining. There is always something positive in an inspection. An optimal inspection process maximizes the profits in all the ways it can, and one of the ways is to inspect regularly. Intermittent inspections are a sign of an unsure organization. Such an organization isn't quite committed to quality and isn't certain about the value of inspection. In such an organization, some code modules are inspected, others are not, some might be inspected several times, there is no clear regularity to the process. As long as code inspection isn't a habit it isn't optimal.

What I'm getting at with this excerpt, is to highlight the fact that quality activities like code inspection need to be light-weight enough to perform often. There is no problem in making Tick-the-Code a habit because it was designed to help immediately with just a little absolute time investment. Other methods might resist such regularity and the consequence are intermittent inspections like above. People see they get the help but it might still feel like too much time is spent on inspecting.

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