The Day That Never Comes

The deadline is close. The customer is waiting for your fix. Your mate needs your patch before going home. No matter which of the above situations applies: the only way to accomplish your job is taking shortcuts and cutting corners.

You do not check some error conditions, use a fixed string instead of a localized one, do not properly free all allocated memory, etc. Your code compiles and seems to work fine but you know that it must be improved as soon as possible. So you tell your boss and/or the product manager. The response they usually give me is: "As soon as there will be some time, we'll fix it."

Guess what? That time never comes. There is always something more important or urgent to do, until a customer (usually an important one) reports an issue with the corners you have cut. Now the priority is to fix the problem as soon as possible, not to review the code to make sure it cannot happen again.

There is a logic in this: the customer doesn't care about code quality (even if he should). He just wants his software to work without errors. But for your company, it must be different. Why isn't it so?

Well, the answer I found is that for a customer is more important to have a quick solution than a bug-free software. It may seem pretty odd but just think about yourself. You buy a new smartphone and it just works as expected: you probably don't spam every social network to tell the world that your new iSomething is OK.

But I bet that if you find an issue and the customer service is really kind with you and the problem is solved in a couple of days, you'll tell your experience and suggest that brand to your friends.

This is called marketing and, on the past, there has been a PC producer that used to take advantage of this mechanism. But this is another story. At present, the only thing I can suggest you is to avoid shortcuts. At least unless you are in the marketing department.


Cover image by Nic McPhee taken from Flickr licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license.

Luca Sommacal

Luca Sommacal

Italian developer (mainly in C for embedded platforms), Linux learner, addicted to rock music, history, science and few other things. Follow me on Twitter

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