Maintainable Software by Inheritance of Responsibility

What is software quality all about?

In general quality means:
– That it works according to the specifications.
– It’s maintainable.

Who is responsible to meet these goals? It’s the developer and tester.
If you have a sound specification it’s easy to measure whether a software behaves according to the specifications.

The second goal is more difficult to achieve.
How can one determine whether a software is maintainable?

In general a developer should feel responsible for his/her code. This can be supported by not interchanging developer resources on a particular code or component. It is encouraged for instance by the Microsoft Solutions Framework (MSF) Team Model. Responsibility is important for a projects success.

But no developer stays in a company forever. And when he/she leaves the company it’s really getting visible whether a software is maintainable. The successor decides whether it is or not.
You might have experienced that: Usually code written by an other person is suspicious to a developer.
To avoid this responsibility is the key. In order to give software a future, responsibility has to be inherited from one person to another.

But how to achieve that?
Feeling responsible is nothing that can be decreed from outside. Responsibility grows inside a person.
In order to make a person feel responsible he/she has to feel confident with the code.

It helps if the code is well documented and more important clearly structured.
The person really has to understand the intention of the developer who created the code.
It might be a good idea to refactor existing code together with the successor and simplify it’s structure so that he/she really understands it.
Give enough time for hand over (weeks not days). It’s not sufficient just to pass the documentation and say good bye as it often happens. This can’t be enforced by the developer itself but the management which has to schedule it.

You will be good adviced to inherit responsibility in order to create maintainable software.

What is your opinion?

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