Crafting Code Podcast


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Humans communicate through stories. That includes the ones writing code. The folklore of your team teaches you about your history (the hows and whys that got you here) and your ambitions for the future. In this episode, Dave and Allan (sans Matt) discuss the storytelling element of teams.


[00:00:00] Host introductions. Communicating with people, not just computers. Storytelling is the basic mode of human communication.

[00:02:55] History helps us understand the team and answer the whys. It helps us tell the old architecture apart from the new.

[00:04:28] Written documentation; is it still correct? The team shaman is the true "living documentation." Draw the system exercises.

[00:07:29] Historical context tells us that code that is wrong now wasn't necessarily wrong then. Change is inevitable as you scale. We learn as we go.

[00:12:16] The Retrospective Prime Directive. If you had tried to do things the "better" way too early, you might have failed.

[00:13:31] Dogma & best practices. Is using source control the only context-free best practice?

[00:19:31] Focus on principles rather than practices. Principles behind the use of source control. Interesting that source control is a practice that tells the history of the team.

[00:22:56] Stories about the future and what we're trying to accomplish, not just about the past. Premortems "We have the opportunity to learn from failures, but not the obligation."

[00:27:50] Stories help us overcome inertia by telling us why we're changing things rather than doing things the way we've always done. If the architecture is just in one person's head, it can't be built. Building up a narrative from simple stories that are fleshed out over time.

[00:31:50] Our stories influence our behavior. Were the prior developers out to get us, or did they just not know?

[00:33:05] The unexpected is a common element in stories. We don't need to requisition servers anymore and our processes co-evolved with the compute changes. Stories remind us of the magic of our accomplishments.

[00:37:53] Recap of our favorite practices relating to storytelling / team folklore. Don't forget the principles behind the practices.

[00:39:06] Outro

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