An old blog of mine, We’re In This For The Money, recently got some attention, delighting me, of course. A full h/t to Jim Speaker @jspeaker for that! He quoted me thus:
Too busy to #TDD? Too busy to pair? Too busy to #refactor? Too busy to micro-test? I call bullshit. My buddy Erik Meade calls it Stupid Busy, and I think that nails it pretty well. All you’re really saying is that you’re too busy to go faster. ~@GeePawHill
Most of the responses were RT’s and likes, both lending me fresh energy. A modest number of folks chatted with me, and that gives even more juice. (Readers please note: the sharers of these things you enjoy need to hear that you enjoy them, early and often. It is what gives us the will to share.)
If you want to ship more value faster, you might want to consider TDD, as it will very likely help you do that, for nearly any definition of value you wish, provided only that the value involves writing logically branching code. I genuinely believe that the modern synthesis is really the fastest way to ship value that we have at this time.
Some who responded took me as saying that and opposed that idea, others took me as saying that and favored that idea. I’ve no idea what the RT’s and likes were inferring.
I am not saying that it is irresponsible of a working programmer to not do TDD et al, because I do not believe that.
Frankly, the idea gives me the willies. So I feel it’s incumbent on me to give you some detail about what I would actually say about this question of responsibility.
(Writers don’t get to decide what readers make of their ideas. You’ll take the money premise and all the rest of my output you decide to bother with, and you’ll make of it what you will. All the same, if I can see how you might think I was saying that, and if I disagree strongly with that, I feel my own – normal, individual, human – sense of responsibility to do what I can to make my ideas more transparent.)
Those senses of responsibility are rich, vague, staggeringly complex, and full of outliers, odd twists, preferences, and, when put in to language, startling contradictions.
Above all, they are individual. There are aggregate and statistical trends, of course, and if one could find an N-dimensional space big enough to hold the variables, one would see bell-curve like manifolds all through it. I have a sense of responsibility, and the odds are overwhelming that you do, too. Our respective responsibility-senses may appear to be similar, even highly similar. But they are not. It only appears that way because of the limits of language and the locality of the context we use to frame them. Our responsibility-senses are different because we are different.
If you read widely, you will have seen hundreds, maybe thousands, of situations in which one responsibility a person senses is pitted against another responsibility that same person senses. If you don’t read at all but you are old and thoughtful enough to seriously review your past, you will also have seen hundreds, maybe thousands, of situations like this in your own personal history, and that of others you know well.
You are in the difficult position of balancing dozens of competing needs, using only your heart and body and mind, and I am well aware that this is a task far more demanding in real life than it seems, on paper, in a blog, or spoken by an idol. I won’t do that for you because I can’t do that for you. I only sometimes manage to do it for me.
Please don’t take me, even in a crabby mood, as someone who assesses your sense of responsibility, commitment, or heaven forbid, morality, on the basis of whether or not you do TDD or any other part of the modern synthesis in your job.