Skip to main content
All software is adding features to a known state - Jim McCarthy

If you are starting out from scratch, the known state is easy… it is nothing until you add that first line of code but, for me at least, most software I work on is not brand new. I have spent more of my time looking after, fixing and enhancing other’s code… so how do I know what the known state of that code is? How do I know what the state of my greenfields project is with 1 line of code? No surprises cause it is the title: constant verification.

As software developers, there is a lot we can do ourselves to get to a known state, for example: unit tests (know the state locally), having test environments (know the state when testing), making sure we have a CI pipeline that is repeatable (know the state is not influenced by builds), and making sure we have observability baked into our code (know the state in production).

Also like in tip 1, we can benefit from working with others, especially QA. It is no surprise that my most successful projects have always had a QA engineer in the team. Their entire job is to know the state and to share that!

Finally, when looking at your own approaches to work, what can you do yourself to practice constant verification?

First assume others have different info, and not that others are wrong. I cannot tell you how often this has saved me from looking like a jerk or missing out on a key piece of knowledge. Let others talk, ask questions to understand why they think something or are suggesting something and often you will uncover more info than you had before.

The second aspect you can do as a software developer is to realise your job is not coding. Your job is the entire lifecycle of software development, from figuring out what to build, how to build it, how to maintain it, how to fix it, how to EVERYTHING.

And finally, something which came up last time too… practice you build it, you run it!

Photo at the top is by Daria Nepriakhina