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Process, Process, Process

Monday, May 22, 2006

Peter Bromberg posts some good rants on his unblog. His recent entry “Is Your Development Process Broken?” was timely.

Several months ago, a friend of a friend called me about a web app with a performance problem. I was going to turn the gig down because the app was written in C++ as an ISAPI extension. I haven’t touched either C++ or ISAPI for years and have no desire to relive those days*.

As it turns out, the performance problem was relatively easy to solve. SQL Profiler revealed a single page that could generate over 500,000 roundtrips to the database with a single button click. The code was issuing database commands inside of a nested loop.

It only took three months to get an update into production.

Three months?

Yeah. Three months.

The application was developed by an “IT Solutions Provider” with no source control. It was difficult to get the application to build. It was difficult to get a build into test that wasn’t broken. Nobody knew what they were testing, or what was changing. Total chaos. Just getting the process into shape was a major ordeal.

It is unthinkable that the company responsible for the mess markets the services of ‘experienced software professionals’. For professionals to bill a customer for this kind of service is nothing short of malpractice.

* It's worth noting that a search for “ISAPI” on Microsoft.com yields more security bulletins than articles on development. C++ is a double-edged knife with a pointy tip.