Pragmatic Software Development Tips

Extracted From The Pragmatic Programmer by Andrew Hunt and David Thomas. Copyright 2000, Addison Wesley.
  • Care About Your Craft
    Why spend your life developing software unless you care about doing it well?
  • Provide Options, Don't Make Lame Excuses
    Instead of excuses, provide options. Don't say it can't be done; explain what can be done.
  • Be a Catalyst for Change
    You can't force change on people. Instead, show them how the future might be and help them participate in creating it.
  • Make Quality a Requirements Issue
    Involve your users in determining the project's real quality requirements.
  • Critically Analyze What You Read and Hear
    Don't be swayed by vendors, media hype, or dogma. Analyze information in terms of you and your project.
  • DRY-Don't Repeat Yourself
    Every piece of knowledge must have a single, unambiguous, authoritative representation within a system.
  • Eliminate Effects Between Unrelated Things
    Design components that are self-contained, independent, and have a single, well-defined purpose.
  • Use Tracer Bullets to Find the Target
    Tracer bullets let you home in on your target by trying things and seeing how close they land.
  • Program Close to the Problem Domain
    Design and code in your user's language.
  • Iterate the Schedule with the Code
    Use experience you gain as you implement to refine the project time scales.
  • Use the Power of Command Shells
    Use the shell when graphical user interfaces don't cut it.
  • Always Use Source Code Control
    Source code control is a time machine for your work—you can go back.
  • Don't Panic When Debugging
    Take a deep breath and THINK! about what could be causing the bug.
  • Don't Assume It-Prove It
    Prove your assumptions in the actual environment—with real data and boundary conditions.
  • Write Code That Writes Code
    Code generators increase your productivity and help avoid duplication.
  • Design with Contracts
    Use contracts to document and verify that code does no more and no less than it claims to do.
  • Use Assertions to Prevent the Impossible
    Assertions validate your assumptions. Use them to protect your code from an uncertain world.
  • Finish What You Start
    Where possible, the routine or object that allocates a resource should be responsible for deallocating it.
  • Configure, Don't Integrate
    Implement technology choices for an application as configuration options, not through integration or engineering.
  • Analyze Workflow to Improve Concurrency
    Exploit concurrency in your user's workflow.
  • Always Design for Concurrency
    Allow for concurrency, and you'll design cleaner interfaces with fewer assumptions.
  • Use Blackboards to Coordinate Workflow
    Use blackboards to coordinate disparate facts and agents, while maintaining independence and isolation among participants.
  • Estimate the Order of Your Algorithms
    Get a feel for how long things are likely to take before you write code.
  • Refactor Early, Refactor Often
    Just as you might weed and rearrange a garden, rewrite, rework, and re-architect code when it needs it. Fix the root of the problem.
  • Test Your Software, or Your Users Will
    Test ruthlessly. Don't make your users find bugs for you.
  • Don't Gather Requirements-Dig for Them
    Requirements rarely lie on the surface. They're buried deep beneath layers of assumptions, misconceptions, and politics.
  • Abstractions Live Longer than Details
    Invest in the abstraction, not the implementation. Abstractions can survive the barrage of changes from different implementations and new technologies.
  • Don't Think Outside the Box-Find the Box
    When faced with an impossible problem, identify the real constraints. Ask yourself: "Does it have to be done this way? Does it have to be done at all?''
  • Some Things Are Better Done than Described
    Don't fall into the specification spiral-at some point you need to start coding.
  • Costly Tools Don't Produce Better Designs
    Beware of vendor hype, industry dogma, and the aura of the price tag. Judge tools on their merits.
  • Don't Use Manual Procedures
    A shell script or batch file will execute the same instructions, in the same order, time after time.
  • Coding Ain't Done 'Til All the Tests Run'
    Nuff said.
  • Test State Coverage, Not Code Coverage
    Identify and test significant program states. Just testing lines of code isn't enough.
  • English is Just a Programming Language
    Write documents as you would write code: honor the DRY principle, use metadata, MVC, automatic generation, and so on.
  • Gently Exceed Your Users' Expectations
    Come to understand your users' expectations, then deliver just that little bit more.
  • Think! About Your Work
    Turn off the autopilot and take control. Constantly critique and appraise your work.
  • Don't Live with Broken Windows
    Fix bad designs, wrong decisions, and poor code when you see them.
  • Remember the Big Picture
    Don't get so engrossed in the details that you forget to check what's happening around you.
  • Invest Regularly in Your Knowledge Portfolio
    Make learning a habit.
  • It's Both What You Say and the Way You Say It
    There's no point in having great ideas if you don't communicate them effectively.
  • Make It Easy to Reuse
    If it's easy to reuse, people will. Create an environment that supports reuse.
  • There Are No Final Decisions
    No decision is cast in stone. Instead, consider each as being written in the sand at the beach, and plan for change.
  • Prototype to Learn
    Prototyping is a learning experience. Its value lies not in the code you produce, but in the lessons you learn.
  • Estimate to Avoid Surprises
    Estimate before you start. You'll spot potential problems up front.
  • Keep Knowledge in Plain Text
    Plain text won't become obsolete. It helps leverage your work and simplifies debugging and testing.
  • Use a Single Editor Well
    The editor should be an extension of your hand; make sure your editor is configurable, extensible, and programmable.
  • Fix the Problem, Not the Blame
    It doesn't really matter whether the bug is your fault or someone else's—it is still your problem, and it still needs to be fixed.
  • "select" Isn't Broken
    It is rare to find a bug in the OS or the compiler, or even a third-party product or library. The bug is most likely in the application.
  • Learn a Text Manipulation Language
    You spend a large part of each day working with text. Why not have the computer do some of it for you?
  • You Can't Write Perfect Software
    Software can't be perfect. Protect your code and users from the inevitable errors.
  • Crash Early
    A dead program normally does a lot less damage than a crippled one.
  • Use Exceptions for Exceptional Problems
    Exceptions can suffer from all the readability and maintainability problems of classic spaghetti code. Reserve exceptions for exceptional things.
  • Minimize Coupling Between Modules
    Avoid coupling by writing "shy" code and applying the Law of Demeter.
  • Put Abstractions in Code, Details in Metadata
    Program for the general case, and put the specifics outside the compiled code base.
  • Design Using Services
    Design in terms of services—independent, concurrent objects behind well-defined, consistent interfaces.
  • Separate Views from Models
    Gain flexibility at low cost by designing your application in terms of models and views.
  • Don't Program by Coincidence
    Rely only on reliable things. Beware of accidental complexity, and don't confuse a happy coincidence with a purposeful plan.
  • Test Your Estimates
    Mathematical analysis of algorithms doesn't tell you everything. Try timing your code in its target environment.
  • Design to Test
    Start thinking about testing before you write a line of code.
  • Don't Use Wizard Code You Don't Understand
    Wizards can generate reams of code. Make sure you understand all of it before you incorporate it into your project.
  • Work with a User to Think Like a User
    It's the best way to gain insight into how the system will really be used.
  • Use a Project Glossary
    Create and maintain a single source of all the specific terms and vocabulary for a project.
  • Start When You're Ready
    You've been building experience all your life. Don't ignore niggling doubts.
  • Don't Be a Slave to Formal Methods
    Don't blindly adopt any technique without putting it into the context of your development practices and capabilities.
  • Organize Teams Around Functionality
    Don't separate designers from coders, testers from data modelers. Build teams the way you build code.
  • Test Early. Test Often. Test Automatically
    Tests that run with every build are much more effective than test plans that sit on a shelf.
  • Use Saboteurs to Test Your Testing
    Introduce bugs on purpose in a separate copy of the source to verify that testing will catch them.
  • Find Bugs Once
    Once a human tester finds a bug, it should be the last time a human tester finds that bug. Automatic tests should check for it from then on.
  • Build Documentation In, Don't Bolt It On
    Documentation created separately from code is less likely to be correct and up to date.
  • Sign Your Work
    Craftsmen of an earlier age were proud to sign their work. You should be, too.
Source- The Pragmatic Bookshelf
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