The Cognitive Tech of Technical Discussions

What can we do when we glitch?

Michael Feathers
February 28, 2019

How do you think?

It’s an odd question.

People think about thinking all of the time but they seldom talk about how ideas come to them. To the extent that I’m aware of my own process, I recognize that there’s a strong visuospatial component to my thinking. In my mind’s eye I see colors and shapes. When someone is talking, . . .

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Testing Yourself

Growing Through Refactoring

Michael Feathers
December 06, 2018

These are interesting times for people who care about refactoring. The 2nd edition of Martin Fowler’s book Refactoring has just been released. As if that weren’t enough, Kent Beck recently wrote up a workflow called test && commit || revert, which can be seen as a new alternative to Test-Driven Development.

It might not be . . .

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Orange Code

What humble citrus fruit can tell us about software

Michael Feathers
August 28, 2018

Whenever I work on unfamiliar code I start extracting methods. When I do this, I look for chunks of code that I can name - then I extract. Even if I end up inlining the methods I’ve extracted later, at least I have a way of temporarily hiding detail so that I can see the overall structure.

When I’m working with someone, often they . . .

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Does Software Understand Complexity?

Reflections from ICCS2018

Michael Feathers
July 28, 2018

This past week I was at a conference with some wonderful talks, but I also enjoy the hallway track - the conversations you have with people during breaks. You trade experiences and eventually you get to the question: “what do you do?” My answer started with one word: software. The people I met had a range of reactions but often they spoke . . .

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The Loss of Locality

Social effects of increased communication

Michael Feathers
March 27, 2018

Silvrback blog image
One of the things about having kids is that their experiences put cultural change in sharp relief. You see the issues they deal with and think back to what you were doing when you were the same age.

Although my children are older now, I vividly remember conversations we had back when they were in elementary school and the . . .

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Breaking and Mending Compatibility

Michael Feathers
February 22, 2018

We often think that backward compatibility is hard, but actually it’s rather easy. Any project with users has a built-in mechanism for maintaining backward compatibility — people complain when it’s broken. That’s how you know. And, most of the time they let you know quickly.

The problem with this is that users can force unwanted . . .

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Negative Architecture

Guiding software by flipping figure and ground

Michael Feathers
January 02, 2018

Silvrback blog image

You’ve probably seen this picture before. It’s one of several images that people use to show how perception works. You either see a vase or two faces looking at each other. In the terminology of Gestalt Psychology, one becomes the figure and the other becomes the ground. We can switch between the vase and the faces but we can’t see . . .

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