Our outsourcing is killing us

Posted in development,scrum by Kris Gray on December 28th, 2006

and our company is asking for more.

We’ve been contracting developers and testers overseas, known for the length of this article as Initech. (Wha?) So like I said, we’ve been using Initech for the majority of our support issues, and then using them to make up large portions of our development teams. The former, while a developers dream (never have to fix a bug in released code, holy cow) is eventually going to lead to shoddy quality and less attentiveness on the behalf of the in-house development team.

As a result, Test driven development and even more importantly any real refactoring attempts are ignored by management, and not voluntarily adopted by the majority of the development team. Test driven development will catch the majority of your issues at dev time, and ensuring quality in following builds through the magic of continuous integration. Since we aren’t writing our tests first our coverage is quite low based on our weak testing discipline, but a much bigger result is that we are not performing the third step of TDD, which is Refactor Ruthlessly.

What we’ve got now is a bunch of weakly tested, ugly, smelly code that we just need to mangle enough to produce the functionality we want, without having to worry to much about the long term quality issues.

I know what your thinking, excuses, excuses. Good developers should refactor, they don’t need a reason, they have the motivation to have quality code developed and part of that is refactoring. There are other factors, and since this is an outsourcing rant and not a refactoring rant, I can’t go into those fully yet.

The Initech guys really are talented, I’m impressed by what they can do, especially under the conditions we impose upon them. Yet they have serious lapse in their completeness. Such as jobs being reported as done just being skipped, functionality being skipped, holes in the design going unnoticed all killing us overall.

Our in house development staff is spending a large portion of their time reviewing, fixing, and completing Initech code. Add these extra duties, to the new demands of scrum, we are finding the amount of time we get to actually code is being severely decreased which leads back to in house developers not having the ambition to self impose TDD and Refactoring into their day to day efforts.

Less apparent is the effect this is having on employee moral. You can argue developers ambitions for their work but whatever they are, this process is ruining it. Our code isn’t something to be proud of, our day to day operations are contain less coding and we’re producing less of those glorious features everyone praises us for. Would it surprise you to find out we’ve had some key people leave in the last few days?

I may make outsourcing seem like the root of all evil, I don’t think we need to do away with them, but with our current process, structure, and personnel, we cannot handle the work load given to Initech. They are great tools for supporting our current in house development team, but history has shown that we can’t trust them on a consistent basis. I hope the message can be relayed to the top, otherwise life as an Initech babysitter will continue to suck.

 

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Javascript Compression

Posted in development by Kris Gray on December 19th, 2006

A quick note of a nice tool for us javascript developers.

The Dojo toolkit team has their own Javascript Compression tool that is available online at

http://alex.dojotoolkit.org/shrinksafe/

On my (modest) site Justise.com I have one larger Javascript file for my start menu from those guys at Milonic that I wanted to compress and here is the screenshot of the results.

js_compress.gif

You can see the results are quite impressive.

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Jingle Bell Run

Posted in seattle by Kris Gray on December 12th, 2006

Amazingly it looks like the run results will be posted online the 22nd of December.

Links on the official website.

I know this is short of monumental news, but it looks like a lot of readers are searching for these results. So I thought I’d post it.

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Some links to checkout

Posted in Blogroll,development by Kris Gray on December 11th, 2006

To solve your case of the Mundays

Dzone.com – A compilination site of diffrent articles by fellow developers for other developers.

Prototype documentation – Prototype is a javascript library that makes javascript a bit easier to use. Its hard to find good Prototype documentatio, so this site is a treasure trove.

Best of the Best 2.0 – The best 2.0 applications out there, grouped by category.

Javascript Libraries – My secret stash of libraries that make me seem like I’m uber productive, but really I’m just using other peoples hard work.

Balls of Fury! – For your viewing pleasure. Fun stuff.

That should keep you busy for weeks.

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Holiday Happenings

Posted in Uncategorized by Kris Gray on December 10th, 2006

John Pizzarelli

I had mentioned earlier that my girlfriend (forever known as Danielle) and I were going to the John Pizzarelli concert at the Benaroya Hall. That concert was last Friday and it was amazing. Its easily one of the best times I’ve had at Benaroya. Pizzarelli uses a jazz quartet to liven and compliment the always wonderfull seattle symphony.

The only negative is that John Pizzarelli himself provides the vocals, and his voice doesn’t have the range to do the classics justice.

Jingle bell run results

Danielle and I also ran in the Seattle Jingle Bell run, a quick 5k jaunt through downtown. I wasn’t able to break an 8 minute mile, but it was crowded, and had some hills so at least I have excuses. I provided my NikePlus report for the run, this tool really is great and if your a fringe runner that needs motivation, seeing your results certainly helps.

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