...the Investigation of difficult Things by the Method of Analysis, ought ever to precede the Method of Composition.
Sir Isaac Newton
A new recruit joined my development team. Our project, whilst
not vast, was relatively large and contained a number of different areas.
There was a lot to learn before he could become effective.
How could he plot a route into the code? From a standing start, how
could he rapidly become productive?
It’s a common situation; one which we all face from time to time. If you
don’t, then you need to see more code and move on to new projects more
often. (It’s important not to get stale from working on one codebase with
one team forever.)
Coming into any large existing codebase is hard. You have to rapidly:
Discover where to start looking at the code
Work out what each section of the code does, and how it achieves it
Gauge the quality of the code
Work out how to navigate around the system
Understand the coding idioms, so your changes will fit in sympathetically
Find the likely location of any functionality (and the consequent bugs caused by it)
Understand the relationship of the code to its important satellite parts (e.g., its tests and documentation)
You need to learn this quickly, as you don’t want your first changes to
be too embarrassing, accidentally duplicate existing
work, or break something elsewhere.
A Little Help from My Friends
My new colleague had a wonderful head start in this learning process. He joined an office ...
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