What to Do When the Code Sucks

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A few weeks ago, Jonathan Fries took some time in a DZone post to reflect on what it really means when developers say that “this bad code was written by somebody else and it is bad, bad code.” Any leader of a team of developers will hear this on a consistent basis. But, simply saying that code is bad isn’t terribly helpful.

Having worked with plenty of developers, some great, some good and some mediocre, Jonathan notes that they are all pretty clever at some level. This cleverness and creativity can manifest itself in many ways. It’s just a question of poking through looking for flashes of brilliance or cleverness inside code that may be bad overall.

Jonathan explains that by “providing me, as a development manager, solid context that you have read and understood the code allows you to judge the code, and allows me as a manager more leeway to listen to you and understand where your criticisms are stemming from.” How do you prove that you read the code? Well, pointing out a thing or two that is good can be helpful, but there are other ways, too.

Read Jonathan’s entire article to better prepare yourself for a constructive discussion of bad code.