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Bugs–Cradle to Grave

Headline: If you wrote the bug, you should fix the bug.

A friend of mine (Duane) years ago said, “Bugs should be cradle to grave.” And by that, he meant just what I said. If you wrote the bug then you should fix the bug. Why?

Cost

The original developer can almost always find and fix a bug in their code because they understand it. Having someone else do it will take longer and can result in more bugs.

Morale

How would you feel if someone walked into your office and said, “Joe’s moving to the new really cool project. You get to take over his code base and fix all his bugs.” That doesn’t help morale. But if Joe has not bugs, or if he can quickly fix them while also working on the new project people are much happier.

Quality

Obviously if developers know this is my philosophy, they’ll write better code. If they don’t they at least know they will be fixing the bugs. I’ve found over time that this approach leads to much higher quality code.

A True Story

Many years ago I had a developer walk into my office to present me with his resignation letter. I wasn’t particularly distraught over their departure, but I was curious why he was leaving. If there was something in the environment that might cause good developers to leave, I wanted to know it.

He said, “All I ever do is fix bugs. I never get to work on the new projects.”

I said, “We only asked you to fix the bugs you wrote – no one else’s.”

We completely rewrote the software on his departure.

Summary

When you write code, write it with the attitude that no one else on this planet is going to be available to fix the bugs. I take that philosophy which is probably one reason I put so much stock in automated tests. If you do this you, your fellow developers, your managers, and your customers will all be happy.

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