Your codebase is your house

This is the best metaphor I know for promoting or defending software quality.

We do live in our codebases: shoddy software engineering has direct, easily-visualised analogues from construction and house maintenance.

For instance, I’m sure you’ve seen these pull requests before1:

Furthermore, the episode “Hurrican Neddy” from season 8 of The Simpsons is a parable of a failed software project, where feature delivery is prioritised at the expense of maintainability.

Homer: Your beautiful kitchen, Ned, just as you remember it.

Ned: Was that, uh, was that toilet always next to the refrigerator?

I often think of the toilet in the kitchen often when reviewing code, when an issue is addressed by shoving code into a place where it really doesn’t belong.

It’s a useful metaphor - it will serve you well in the struggle to keep a large codebase maintainable2.


  1. I first saw the fan image in a tweet by @isoiphone. I can’t find the tweet I saw the bricks image in - please let me know if you know it.

    [return]
  2. Anthropomorphic dog image from a Gunshow strip called “On Fire” [return]
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