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From Taher Alkhateeb <slidingfilame...@gmail.com>
Subject [Discussion] Shifting our OFBiz culture to enable innovation
Date Sat, 16 Jul 2016 13:38:11 GMT
Hello Everyone,

As you already know, we have been doing major work in terms of improving
and refactoring the framework. We are buzzing and making changes everywhere
and people are getting excited about helping out. This is fantastic! and I
hope we can continue in this new direction.

However, before we started the refactoring work, I kept wondering why did
we get here in the first place? We do we have lots of bad and messy code in
the code base? Why are we at point where we are shifting all energies to
cleaning up?

So as I started working with people on the refactoring project and the
answers to the above questions started to slowly appear. I list below my
perception of the problems and recommendations for avoiding repeating these
problems of bad code.

Problem: We are very conservative

How many times did you hear this: "Don't remove that, somebody might need
it" or "Oh no, you just made a regression in trunk" or "No keep it, _one_
person X objected".

You know ... making software is difficult. It involves taking many
decisions, some of these decisions might not appeal to every person but
they are necessary for the health of the project.

So here is where I observed conservative behavior:

- We are too sensitive to objections that even _one_ person might stop an
initiative. In a way we might be a little too nice.
- We treat trunk like it is almost a stable branch, and for any serious
change we immediately prefer to create branches.
- We _rarely_ remove anything, and when we suggest removing things big
resistance happens. We suffer from "code hoarding"
- We are shy about changing other people's code. Shy not because we don't
know what to do, but we are concerned about making those who wrote the
software displeased.
- We treat code written by others like it is holy and difficult and we
cannot repeat, when in fact many times we can make it actually _better_!

The above observations in my opinion are the main reasons why we have bad
code. We just pile up and we are so afraid of change. We don't change
anything and the code as a result suffers and deteriorates. We just pile
things on top of other things and do not revisit the design and try to make
it better and cleaner. Sometimes revisiting the design involves _DELETING_
which is a strange word in our community :)

Recommendation: Shifting our mindset

At a high level, we can say our problem is fear! How do we reduce and
control fear? How do we gain confidence about making change without too
much pain? Luckily many smart people already thought about these things and
came up with wonderful solutions. I list hear recommendations which are
inspired by these thinkers:

- First we must be aware that we are conservative and accept it. We should
be conscious of how apprehensive we are about change
- We should have a very strong test coverage of our code and we should
exercise Test Driver Development as a core philosophy in our programming
methodology. Having very well tested code gives you confidence. Confidence
gives you courage to change.
- We should accept trunk as an _unstable software_. It is a place where all
the brain storming and thinking and innovation is happening.
- We should be open in expressing our opinions. Being correct is better
than being nice. Mind you I'm not encouraging conflict! I am instead
encouraging good technical discussions that lead to useful outcomes. It is
only when people challenge your technical opinion that you really expand
your horizons and learn something
- For me personally, I think most importantly, we should accept _REMOVING_
and _DELETING_ things. This is a natural phenomenon in all software
systems. Sometimes we create something and realize later that it was a bad
idea. Just Delete it!! Don't keep it hanging forever.

In conclusion

So OFBiz has a wonderful community and great people. However we are overly
conservative, and we need to be a little more brave and willing to embrace
change. Yes this will lead to some friction and at times feeling lost, but
the long-term benefits far far outweigh the losses in my opinion.

What do you think? I would love to hear everyone's opinion on this, and
thank you again for being such supportive and wonderful people.

Cheers :)

Taher Alkhateeb

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