C. Keith Ray

C. Keith Ray writes about and develops software in multiple platforms and languages, including iOS® and Macintosh®.
Keith's Résumé (pdf)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015


(Originally posted 2003.May.08 Thu; links may have expired.)

What's the difference in a bug in a new feature, and a bug that suddenly appears in an old feature? In a new feature, one is getting added value imperfectly. In an old feature, one that used to work bug-free, but is now broken, someone on your team is subtracting value.

For a very long time, experts like Jerry Weinberg have been recommending careful code reviews of maintenance changes, because a bug in a deployed system (like payroll or billing) can result in multiple millions of dollars in losses.

Someone inserting defects into working code is creating waste: not just the risk of printing bad checks or bills, but creating work for themselves and others to identify and fix the problem they created.

The danger in maintenance or incremental development is that an innocuous change breaks an existing feature. Extreme Programming deals with this danger in three ways: pair programming (continuous code review), extensive automated unit tests, and automated acceptance tests. Plus, most if not all XP teams have manual testing as well.

Many teams doing test-driven-development (a core practice of XP) report that their unit-test code coverage is nearly 100% statement/branch coverage without taking extra effort. This gives them the freedom to make an innocuous change (as part of a refactoring, for example), and see within minutes if it breaks anything. If it does, they can Undo their change, or evaluate the change more carefully.

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