Gimli, son of Gloin, on software development

How to measure the productivity of a software developer has been an ongoing debate for years.

They studied professional programmers with an average of 7 years’ experience and found that the ratio of initial coding time between the best and worst programmers was about 20 to 1; the ratio of debugging times over 25 to 1; of program size 5 to 1; and of program execution speed about 10 to 1. They found no relationship between a programmer’s amount of experience and code quality or productivity. (Steve McConnell, Rapid Development)

Imagen de Legolas y Gimli en la peli de 1978

Gimli le explica a Legolas la vida del programador

From the number of lines of code written to assigning function points to each part of the code depending on complexity, there is a whole set of proposals out there.

Consider both points above together – your coworker codes 25 function points in one day, but they’re all simple validations (if text box “a” is not a date, throw an error…)

In the same day, you stared at the screen for six hours, whiteboarded a lot, then rewrote one line and deleted fifteen other lines, making a major part of the data processing engine faster by two orders of magnitude.

So he wrote 650 lines and 25 function points, you wrote *negative* fourteen lines of code and no new function points.

Who’s “better” ? (Joel On Software Forum)

J.R.R. Tolkien, in The Lord of the Rings,  was so kind as to take some time to explain, through the words of Gimli the dwarf, the most complex and marvellous part of a software developer’s work.

We would tend these glades of flowering stone, not quarry them. With cautious skill, tap by tap – a small chip of rock and no more, perhaps, in a whole anxious day – so we could work, and as the years went by, we should open up new ways, and display far chambers that are still dark, glimpsed only as a void beyond fissures in the rock.

Quote on evaluation

“I remember what my old hockey coach used to say to me,” Mike said. “Don’t judge a goalie on his best day, as almost anyone can get hot for a while; judge him on his worst. When he’s not at his sharpest, will he lose you the game; or, can he still play well enough to keep you in it? I judge companies the same way: The real measure is not how they function at their best, on the basis of a single product or particularly good service one day, but how they do at their worst. (The Ice Cream Maker, Chowdhury)

Everyone can be a genius when the right conditions are met.

Everyone seems good enough when things are going well enough.

What you should be looking for is people who grow when things are going wrong. The ones who step ahead when the storm is coming.

Your 100-day project won’t be saved by a day of inspiration, but by the other 99 days of perspiration.