Some years ago I was a software manager and I took on the task of writing coding standards.

Any good software department has coding standards which define anything from the layout of the code on the screen to naming standards and how errors should be detected and dealt with.

We had debates about the standards and I would check code to see how well they were being adhered to.

It became apparent that whereas some people were writing good code that generally followed the standards, other, more junior programmers, seemed to ignore them altogether. When I spoke to these people it became obvious that they were having problems simply writing code that worked. The idea of writing to a standard was maybe something to aspire to. When I asked them they would say that they would fix it up later or something similar.

Usually they were graduates but that’s another story.

It made me think. We have standards for life. Few people now would think to obey the Ten Commandments of the Old Testament. Maybe it’s something they would aspire to ‘in a perfect world’. But even basic ideas such as: ‘don’t lie’, ‘don’t steal’ or (for men at least) ‘don’t abuse women’ are considered aspersions, if that. I’ve heard people say that they have to lie because everyone else does it and you can’t survive in this world unless you do.

Such people are like the novice programmers. They have enough problems simply getting through life, let alone having standards.

Like the programmers maybe they should adjust their expectations to their abilities. However, I think like the University educated programmers they probably think they deserve the best.

By Philip Braham on .

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x