This post is part of my “Software Development” series. The TOC for the entire series can be found here.
Developing good software is hard. Really hard. Sure, anyone can buy a book on writing software or pull up some code samples and get something that compiles and runs, but that’s not’s really developing software. A lot of code in the wild – I’d bet a vast majority of it – just plain sucks.
It’s hard to point out where the blame lies. It seems that most developers are environmentally or institutionally destined to write bad code. Schools teach how to write code, but not how to architect it or to follow reasonable design practices. In the zeal for clarity, publishers churn out books, blogs and samples that show bad practices (when is it ever a good idea to access a data model from your UI event handler?). Managers and customers alike push hard to get things done now, not necessarily done right – only to find months or years later that doing it right would have saved a boatload of time and money. And let’s face it – many developers are simply showing up to work to pull a paycheck. You know who they are. You’ve no doubt worked with them in the past. You’re probably working with them now.
I was watching Gordon Ramsay the other day and it occurred to me that he and I are alike in our own peculiar way. I’m not saying that I see myself as the “Gordon Ramsay of Software Development” – hardly – but we share a common trait. Just as Gordon gets angry and starts spewing colorful language when he walks into a crap kitchen, it bothers the hell out of me to see complete idiots in my chosen field out there just making a mess of things. When I see bad code – not necessarily minor errors, or code that could be refactored and made better – but just outright shit code that should not have occurred to a developer in the first place it pisses me off. By the nature of my work, often getting called in only when the project is off the rails, I see it all the time. Code that, on review, a peer or mentor should have seen and said “Whoa! There’s no way that’s going into our code base”. Code that just makes it harder for the next person to do their job.
In an effort to simplify things for my own code, for my customers’ code as well as anyone who is willing to listen to my ravings, I’ve spent a lot of time building, testing, fixing and extending tools and frameworks that many of which I turn around and give away. This isn’t out of altruism, no, it’s largely because I’m a lazy developer. I hate writing the same thing twice. When I start a project, I don’t want to spend large amounts of time building up the same infrastructure that every project needs. Building up a framework for handling UI navigation isn’t what I’d call interesting, but just about every project needs it. Handling object dependencies and events is common. Writing a DAL for serializing and deserializing entities is not just drudgery, I find it’s highly susceptible to errors because you end up doing a lot of copy and paste.
I have these cool tools and frameworks that I use in literally every project I work on now. That’s great for me, but it doesn’t really help others, right? Without reasonable documentation or explanation, only a small handful of people are going to go through the effort of getting the tools and trying to understand them – even if they are deceptively simple and could potentially save you weeks of effort.
So I’ve decided to put together a series of blogs over the coming weeks and months that explain, hopefully in simple terms, what these frameworks do, how to use them, and most importantly, why they are worth using. There’s nothing groundbreaking here. I didn’t invent some new way to do things. I’ve simply appropriated other peoples’ ideas and extended them to work in the environments that I work.
Generally I’ll be covering the following topics and frameworks:
- Dependency Injection and Inversion of Control (using OpenNETCF IoC)
- Event Aggregation (using OpenNETCF IoC)
- Plug-in Architectures and interface-based programming (using OpenNETCF IoC)
- Software features as services (using OpenNETCF IoC)
- Data Access through an ORM (using OpenNETCF ORM)
- Parameter Checking (using OpenNETCF Extensions)
- Exposing data services over HTTP (using Padarn)
- Whatever else I think of
If there’s a topic you’d like me to talk about, feel free to send me an email. I may turn on comments here and let you post ideas, but I find that when I enable comments on my blog, I start getting more comment spam than I really want to deal with, so if comments are turned off just drop me a line.