What I Discovered from Google and a couple of Builders with Unhealthy Programming Practices | by Josef Cruz | Jun, 2022


One developer copy-paste and the opposite one doesn’t doc.

Picture by Souvik Banerjee on Unsplash

The ensuing code (which operates in a redundant and twisted manner) is the confluent results of many simultaneous unhealthy practices coming from two main sources: the builders and the enormous Google.

That will help you perceive, it’s essential to disassemble the code and infer its historical past, which I attempt to summarize:

  • The unique program (a ringtone generator) was began round 2013 by a developer, let’s say, Joe.
  • Joe has a foul behavior (which is fashionable): copy and paste from Stack Overflow with out worrying an excessive amount of about fonts. Though reducing and pasting are affordable, what’s fallacious is the entire lack of documentation and reasoning when doing the code. Haste is often a foul counselor.
  • Again then, the model of Android was KitKat, and the inner safety design was in its infancy. Because of this, Android itself had quite a few safety deficiencies.
  • In 2015, Joe stopped creating the code and went to a different firm. Nonetheless, this system has been useful for some time.
  • The event activity is delegated to Ryan, who has one other unhealthy behavior. He leaves the code unchanged with out worrying about documenting or requesting documentation when he sees the code he has labored on. He is aware of it really works, however some ideas are international to him. If the code has an issue, he’ll already handle to repair it with what he already is aware of.
  • Google goes forward with Android growth and releases model 6.0 (Marshmallow), introducing Runtime Permissions. To make it quick, the brand new model of Android is safer, delegating the choice of a number of permissions to consumer interplay:
  • We cross from this (all permissions are requested when putting in the app)
  • It’s an essential element: it forces the developer to rethink the app and add extra code to take care of situations of permissions being granted or denied rapidly. It’s a step ahead when it comes to safety, the place Google delegates the answer of this new paradigm to builders. It’s normal apply that builders are chargeable for resolving these incidents (it isn’t the facility of Google: Microsoft, Oracle, and others ship theirs too). That’s, a step ahead when it comes to safety, however one step again as a result of disruptiveness of the change. Hundreds of functions (which work completely) must be reprogrammed to fulfill the brand new requirements. In any other case, they won’t work from Android 6 onwards.
  • We return to Ryan: now it’s more and more discovered that the applying doesn’t work on new units. A technique or one other, you must determine it out. Joe hasn’t developed the applying for a very long time, and he most likely has no thought about this downside both.
  • So Ryan does what any developer would do: begin researching the difficulty and on the lookout for an answer ASAP.
  • As a result of little information of the topic, he does a ‘patch’ or ‘repair’: if the machine is Android lower than 6, do one factor. Whether it is older, do one other. It works, besides that a whole lot of code is duplicated ‘simply in case. ‘ It’s one other downside that impacts many developments: a partial evaluation of the issue results in redundant code and long-term issues.
  • Alongside the best way, Ryan skips documenting. In spite of everything, he can keep in mind your entire resolution. Why doc? Many programmers have a ‘Excellent Reminiscence’ advanced, and so they suppose that they will keep in mind EVERYTHING, and consequently, documenting is pointless. The time is at all times in control of proving them fallacious.
  • While you begin duplicating code, you have to duplicate performance that does the identical factor or practically the identical factor. This ‘virtually’ requires you to start out ‘tuning’ variables and creating new code. Lastly, Ryan will find yourself with a considerable amount of ‘handmade’ code to keep away from reanalyzing the state of affairs in gentle of the brand new adjustments.
  • Mid 2017: Google introduces Android 8 with new adjustments on the safety stage, once more negatively impacting totally operational apps.
  • Once more the app doesn’t work on Android 8 and up. Ryan already has the hand with the code: If the Android is larger than 8, do one factor. Whether it is lower than 8, do one other. Ooops, I additionally need to if Android is larger than six and <6. Effectively, I’ll see the way to accommodate myself.
  • Ryan’s code begins to seem like a 7-headed hydra, duplicating code right here, code there, and making an attempt to make all of it work as a single utility.
  • After some time, Ryan adjustments jobs and goes to program for one more firm. Sadly, he leaves behind him a tangle of code that’s obscure.
  • Unlucky is the one who now has to keep up the code. What stays is a program that works, however it isn’t identified for positive why some issues work and what the sequence is with out documentation.
  • A developer’s work is never accomplished, even with excellent code. All functions rely on how they work together with one another and are supported by an working system. So the idea of ‘excellent’ doesn’t exist besides in very slender environments. The remainder is perfectible code, a ‘residing’ being that we mannequin in order that it adapts to its atmosphere, a technique or one other.
  • There are intense work intervals when a reference firm adjustments its ‘paradigm.’ It is sort of a silent and immense wave that impacts a whole lot of hundreds of functions, leaving them inoperative. That enormous corporations delegate duty to programmers has turn out to be a norm, a duty assumed by pressure, and the implications of this (disastrous) apply are hardly appreciated. It’s perceived as ‘the app doesn’t work within the new model of the working system’ or ‘these functions stopped working’ or ‘it doesn’t work on my new cell.’ The particular person in control of obligation falls on the developer.
  • Awful growth practices can amplify and depart behind operational code that may explode proper beneath our noses. That is an instance of ‘passing the new potato’ the place nobody takes duty for the results of constructing code that has turn out to be poor and undocumented.

PS: The names are purely fictitious. No Joe/Ryan was harmed throughout this story.

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