How To Write Unmaintainable Code

Roedy Green published a great article on something most of us in health IT deal with regularly: code that’s difficult to manage and maintain. He says you can ensure a job for life if you learn How To Write Unmaintainable Code.

From his introduction:

In the interests of creating employment opportunities in the Java programming field, I am passing on these tips from the masters on how to write code that is so difficult to maintain, that the people who come after you will take years to make even the simplest changes. Further, if you follow all these rules religiously, you will even guarantee yourself a lifetime of employment, since no one but you has a hope in hell of maintaining the code. Then again, if you followed all these rules religiously, even you wouldn’t be able to maintain the code!

Although it’s amusing, it’s dead serious at the same time. If you manage a group of engineers like I do, you owe it to yourself to make sure your engineers aren’t following any of the techniques that help create unmaintainable code.

If you find that your engineers (or gasp even you) are creating code that you feel might not be maintainable a document like this is a good training document: often times anti-patterns (or things not to do) are a better way of teaching people the right thing to do instead of just a bunch of general guidelines. If you’re interested in improving your ability to maintain already old or unmaintable code, check out these three decent books on the subject:

Software Maintenance: Concepts and Practice Practical Software Maintenance : Best Practices for Managing Your Software Investment Advances in Software Maintenance Management: Technologies and Solutions

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2 thoughts on “How To Write Unmaintainable Code

  1. Dead serious? Relaaax. I mean this code is only going to be in production for a coule of months and then were going to move to a new platform which will require a complete re-write. I mean, it’s not like people 20 years from now are still going to be using outdated healthcare software. We’ll have hover-cars and self-writing AI by then right? Right???

  2. Peter, you’re right of course. I forgot that code only has a half-life of the time that the original developer is at a particular company :-). Once the original guy leaves the news guys blame everything on him and ask for a rewrite since “everything has changed” and we need to move to the next new technology.

    Thanks for the correction :-).

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