Crap Code Inevitable? Rumblings from ACCU.

In my keynote I attempted to show the historical trajectory that has led to the emergence of the software craftsmanship movement. My argument was that since the business practices of SCRUM have been widely adopted, and since teams who follow those practices but do not follow the technical practices of XP experience a relentless decrease in velocity, and since that decrease in velocity is exposed by the transparency of scrum, then if follows that the eventual adoption of those technical XP practices is virtually assured. My conclusion was that Craftsmanship was the “next big thing” (tm) that would capture the attention of our industry for the next few years, driven by the business need to increase velocity. (See Martin Fowler’s blog on Flaccid Scrum) In short, we are on a trajectory towards a higher degree of professionalism and craftsmanship.

Nicolai’s thesis was the exact opposite of mine. His argument was that we are all ruled by marketing and that businesses will do whatever it takes to cut costs and increase revenue, and therefore businesses will drive software quality inexorably downward. He stipulated that this will necessarily create a crisis as the defect rates and deadline slips increased, but that all attempts to improve quality would be short lived and followed by a larger drive to decrease quality even further.

Josuttis’ talk was an hour of highly depressing rhetoric couched in articulate delivery and brilliant humor. One of the more memorable moments came when he playacted how a manger would respond to a developer’s plea to let them write clean code like Uncle Bob says. The manager replies: “I don’t care what Uncle Bob says, and if you don’t like it you can leave and take Uncle Bob with you.”

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