Earlier this year, twenty intrepid Vodorians embarked upon our first-ever reading group. Since a large part of what we do at Vodori is software development, we elected to read “Code Complete.” Granted, it’s nearly a decade old, but weighing in at more than 1,000 pages, it’s a pretty comprehensive overview of good development practices.
I have little to add to the innumerable voices on the Internet that have reviewed “Code Complete” as a piece of technical writing. The true test of its worth is reflective of the impact it has had on the way we work at Vodori. The results are that, yes, the team has improved as a consequence of reading this book as a group.
Most obviously, having 20 people read a book about developing better quality code has improved our code quality. At the risk of being reductive, the message from “Code Complete” is about communication. Clarity, consistency and correctness in code and communication are key. When everyone understands everyone else, along with the code they write, code quality goes up.
There were less obvious benefits too. On a day-to-day basis, conversations between developers tend to be about the task at hand; developers rarely have the chance to discuss high-level development issues. By providing a weekly forum to discuss code quality and how to be a good developer, we provided much needed time and space for these types of discussions.
Finally, once you're out of school and in the workplace, it can be hard to continue to grow as a developer. Learning new libraries and languages is all very well, but there's more to being a good developer than knowing how to code. Knowing what to code is just as important.