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OSA Foundation was an ambitious project to re-invent e-mail. They had high-quality people on the board. This is their thinking about good programming practices:
  • Continuous releases and daily builds
  • Rather than put a bug in the bug database, first try to fix it.
  • Don’t code first and ask QA to find bugs.The engineer who wrote the code is mostly responsible for QA.
  • No code is finished until the unit test is finished.
  • Good design results from getting something going quickly, followed by lots of quick iteration.
  • The best architectures evolve for a long time.
  • Code reviews are a regular part of development.
  • Difficult parts of code are best done by a team of two people working closely together.
  • If you see a new bug while doing something else, drop everything and jump on the chance to fix it. It just make your life easier down the road.
  • It is possible to eliminate all bugs from many subsystems and you should use techniques that make it possible, like monte carlo simulations and exhaustive checking code whenever possible.
  • Complexity is your enemy – the sooner you learn the smell of too much complexity, the better.
  • Simplicity is your friend. Don’t fall for a really cool fancy algorithm unless you know you need it.
  • Buzzword technologies often become religious. The only thing you should be religious about is happy customers and they don’t care about buzzwords.
  • Don’t build elaborate systems unless you know you need them.
  • Research existing open source project to make sure the code you need isn’t already available.
  • Never write a slow program.
  • By the time your project is finished your competitor’s project will be way better than you think.
  • Price is only one feature of software. It’s often not the most important. From the user’s perspective, simple things should be simple and complex things should be possible.
  • Automate releases.
  • Use source level debuggers.
  • Use IDEs
  • Don’t write makefiles unless you have too.
  • Measure then optimize.
  • Always spend at least 10% of your time learning new things.
  • Use multiple languages, programming environments, operating systems and programming methodologies until you are comfortable with them and learn to appreciate the benefits of different approaches.
  • Use the best tools, even if they are expensive.
  • Optimize variable names for maximum clarity, not minimum typing.
  • It’s OK to make mistakes. The only thing that isn’t OK is to not learn from them.
  • Don’t leave code commented out unless it’s clearly explained.
  • Approach each piece of code you write like it’s final finished code.
  • Don’t leave loose ends to clean up later because you’ll never have time to clean them up.
  • Never code an algorithm that you know won’t work in the final product either because it won’t scale, run fast enough, or will have a rare failure case.
  • All successful products have a life longer than you can conceive.
  • Files and processors will grow by factors of 10,000 – make sure your design can accommodate change.
  • Don’t code the first algorithm that comes to mind.
  • Try to examine all possible approaches and choose the best.
  • Get someone to review your approach before coding.
  • Don’t put band aids on bad code, rewrite it. At first is seems hard, but after you’ve done it awhile you’ll find successive rewrites go much faster than you thought.
  • When you work on someone else’s code, don’t leave it in worse shape than it came to you.
  • Ask the original author to review your change.
  • No bug is impossible to fix.
  • Get to be good friends with a programmer, designer, or writer who’s better than you.

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