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15Mar/120

Analogy trap: Codermetrics

Recently I have read Codermetrics book by Jonathan Alexander, and was left with mixed feelings about it’s proposition: to introduce sports' style analytics to optimize performance of software development teams…

The similarities seem uncanny:  developing software is a team endeavor with people in one or more roles working towards a shared goal (release). Yet in my opinion the differences contradict similarities – often to the point of making the analogy superficial and altogether flawed. It is one thing to score 10 goals in the field, and quite another to produce 10 good software-intensive systems – emphasis on “good”; the sports metaphor ignores quality aspect almost entirely - a goal is a goal is a goal... and one good system design might be diametrically opposite of an equally good system design. While it could be argued that “winning software” is also quantifiable the approach is much more nuanced, and trends to change over long period of time. In addition, applying metrics to software development team immediately affects dynamics of the team and might introduce more problems that it is supposed to solve. The temporal dimension is also is all but left out - months of team training followed by a couple of hours of team effort is hardly analogous to a solitary task of learning and honing one's skills followed by months or even years of development marathon...

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