Friday, January 14, 2005

Collective Code Ownership - There's No Such Thing

Certain software development methods, like XP, advocate collective code ownership.

In my opinion, the idea is nice in theory, but unrealistic in practice. You always take a certain pride in what you create, especially in cases where the work was difficult, tricky, or just something you tried for the first time.

Yesterday, I talked to a colleague, who took over my subsystem recently, and he told me "Yeah, your drag and drop code worked, after we fixed the [other part of system]". This was something I'd tried for the firts time, so I was very pleased.

Yes, code ownership can be a problem, like the XP people say. Bottlenecks and all that. But I think the problem simply comes down to courtesy, when you think about it. When code you wrote gets changed, you want to know about it. In a lot of cases, it's clear from the context who does what on what code, like in my example. But when it's unclear, it doesn't hurt anyone to give a short notice to the guy who wrote the code in the first place.

Code ownership is not the problem, deficient communication is.


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