Tuesday, May 09, 2006

What's so funny ?

That Joel guy keeps racking up the quotable quotes.

His latest blog starts with the cute code

catch(Exception *)
print("call customer service");
// i guess i'm done!

But Joel carries on to notice that "One of the hallmarks of a broken system is when there's just no possible way that the programmer who is writing code that talks to customers can ever get feedback from those customers about bugs, ...".

'Sfunny that: I was just talking to another guy who has made his minions in physics and may be interested in investment opportunities. I was showing him some old code, and pointing out the menu item "Report Issue" - which brings up a standard dialog and emails the text straight into our issue tracker.

And he suggested we add another menu item: "What is great about this software ?". Ok, it may need a snazzier title, but I like the way he's thinking.

'Sfunny further: our issue tracker behind that software was FogBUGZ, as written by Joel. Hardly a surprise as he's taken the idea futher with BugzScout.

'Snot funny: One of my rules is that each developer should spend time on site. Given the wonderful communication skills of your average geek, managers can take some time to be convinced of the utility of this. Chances are he'll scare the bejasus out of the poor users, but the strategy is designed for his benefit, not theirs. (And for theirs only in the longer term).

When we were developing that software, the strangest dichotomy I noticed between coders and users was keyboard vs mouse: coders kept making all these mouse-friendly dialogs, that users had a hard job of getting around with keyboards. And it wasn't just that team, I've seen it consistently since.

Why do so many coders spend hours slaving away over a hot keyboard to create source code, and immediately switch to mouse as soon as the code is executable ?

How many coders do you know who use a mouse (not <Tab>, <Enter>, <Space>) to navigate a dialog, or HTML form ? How many coders do you know who do not know that <Shift-Tab> usually goes backwards?

'Sfunny that. No wonder they all use IDEs, and how many of them are holding their breath now that vim 7 is in final beta ?

Hey ! It's out. Real coders the world over start breathing smoothly again.

Happy Vimming!


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