The broken window theory in the real world

I used to live in beautiful sunny Neutral Bay, Sydney where I walked along Bent Street every day. I moved back to Europe at the end of this July and just found this in my Draft blog folder..
I experienced the "broken window theory" myself, in front of my door.

image image image
18 February
23 February 1 March

Click on pictures for larger views

I was on holidays in New Zealand in January, and I didn't notice the car till afterwards in February.
I noticed the car before, with a couple of bushes under the bottom but I thought it was just parked there for a while. In February I started to take pictures. The above pictures are the result.

I found this interesting because I would have never thought that I would "experience" this myself, and the street I used to live in was pretty neat Winking smile 

Why do I care as a software developer?
A little mess turns into a bigger mess pretty quickly, especially for code.
If you don't care about your code, you start to become sloppy. Sloppy code attracts more sloppy code. The next developers copies and imitates the previous developer. And "Bumm!" you have a mess.
Have you ever come across a nice clean codebase and thought. "Uhhh… I am not sure if I want to touch this code, this is so beautiful and clean."
Topic is covered in my talk about Clean Code Development



Potential ways to avoid this

  1. Follow the "Boy Scout rule"
  2. Review your code with your peers
  3. Write tests that act as a playground fence for your refactorings
    Developers like to play, so why not create a playground fence yourself where you can play with refactorings, new tools, new technologies and possible improvements

Tests act as a fence around your playground
Figure: Tests act as a fence around your playground (and as a sandbox for new ideas)

Playing supports learning, creativity and relationship building. Watch this TED talk from Stuart Brown for more on this topic…

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