Showing posts from November, 2020

Assuming the Bugs

Writing code is all about making assumptions. Sometimes those assumptions are explicit, but more often we make those assumptions implicitly. We make assumptions about what kinds of parameters we will receive. We make assumptions about what kinds of values methods and functions will return. We make assumptions about the global state. The correctness of our code relies on the correctness of these assumptions. Bad assumptions can wreck our applicatons. We assumed that method never returns null, but turns out it does. Now we have an unexpected NullPointerException crashing through our stack. We assume that we will always average at least one element. Turns out someone wants to average zero elements. Boom, division by zero, ArithmeticException . We make so many assumptions through our codebases, at least a few are going to be wrong. Really, there are many, many assumptions that are wrong. These are bugs. These bad assumptions are all of our bugs. Usually, our assumptions are i

Name Your Problems

Sometimes when developing code, I run into problems. Ok, a lot of the times I run into problems, but there's a certain kind of problem I run into pretty often. The problem is that I want a thing that doesn't exist. I am writing code, and it is just getting gnarlier and more tangled around a pile of logic. At some point, I hit a wall with it. It is too complicated to really reason about, and I don't want to make things any worse. I've found a trick to solving these problems, though. I take those problems and give them a name. Once I do that, I can get a handle on them, manipulate them, or even sequester them off into a corner. In almost every case, this drastically reduces the complexity back down to a reasonable level, and I often get the side benefit of offering extensibility I didn't know I needed. To demonstrate, let's say we are working on an e-commerce site. The company is based in Alabama, and sells to customers in all 50 states in the US. We have a met