Friday, 24 October 2008

Grammar Heuristic

One of my recent blog posts was picked up by QA Hates You who made a comment about quality

Additionally, this would include an interface that lacks grammar and spelling issues; any time I see those, I just assume the developers are as code-illiterate as they are English-illiterate and that logic defects aren’t far below the surface

This does seem to be a common reaction - if the UI looks bad then assume the underlying code is also as bad ( or worse )

I posed the question on Twitter ( if you see a bad UI do you assume the code is bad )and got a couple of responses

Jason Barile
I would certainly question the quality of code and perhaps the priorities of the coders/testers
I cringe. I fear for the level of overall quality if no-one noticed it. It suggests sloppiness and a lack of pride in the work.

It can be a good heuristic to use but it's not always valid
From my dark days as a programmer there are two situations where it doesn't tell thefull story

For a lot of programmers it's all about the code - grudgingly they will fit a UI onto the top of their code so that mere mortals can use it but it's not their top priority. At one company there was always the promise that a professional UI designer would be brought in to take care of the UI but that never happened. So we'd sling together some rough prototype, ask for some feedback (which never arrived ) and then the code would ship
It could indicate that management of the company didn't take quality highly enough that they would pay for a UI designer ( and tester ) but as a measure of code quality it wasnt a fair indication.

Alternatively, there is also the case that some companies rely on smoke and mirrors and will put a large amount of effort into making the UI look slick and polished ( especially when there is an upcoming trade show to demonstrate at ) and pay little attention to the real functionality behind it

And maybe the UI can put a slight bias on testing efforts - if the UI is sloppy then there must be bugs to find, if it's slick then maybe, just maybe, you wont try as hard. With the increasing amount of programmers using unit testing then the correlation between poor UI and poor code is not as fixed as maybe it used to be

Anyway, it was about time I had a blog post with 'heuristic' in the title

No comments: