On Hubris

Pride has its place. You should take pride in your work, your family, and things that you do. It is when this pride becomes excessive that there are problems. The right amount of pride will ensure that the highest level of quality is achieved in everything we do because we will check and check again to make sure that the work we do is up to par with what we consider correct. However, slightly too much pride can tip the scales and usher in carelessness. When we think we know it all we let down our guards and have a tendency to stop second guessing ourselves, which increases the probability for mistakes.

Programmers, for the most part, are a pretty positive bunch.  We tend to think we can solve the problems of the world through a couple well constructed key strokes. While we often have the best of intentions we are also fallible and find ourselves backtracking to undo our mistakes on a regular basis. The difference between developers that spend a lot of time backtracking and those who spend very little can ultimately be boiled down to pride, ceteris paribus. So how can the typical developer keep a tight leash on hubris? Write test cases.

When developers begin to assume that they are too good to need to write test cases problems often follow closely. Test cases form the foundation for unit testing, refactoring, and new development and serve as a base to which developers can use to ensure that their changes did not have any unintended affects on the system at large. Test cases are simply good programming practice and should be an essential part of any developer’s repertoire.

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Jason McDonald

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