Kent Beck on incremental degradation (“defactoring”) as a design tool

Thanks to @AdamWhittingham for pointing out a great post from Kent Beck in which he suggests an “if you can’t make it better, make it worse” approach to incremental development. This is a habit that has been a part of my development process for a long while, and I have needed to explain it to mildly puzzled colleagues several times.

An analogy I have often used is that of Origami, the Japanese art of paper folding. The end results can be intricate and beautiful, but the individual steps often seem to go back on themselves, folding and unfolding, pulling and pushing the same section until it ends up in the precisely correct configuration. Just as folding and unfolding a piece of paper leaves a crease which affects how the paper folds in future, factoring code one way then defactoring it to another leaves memory and improved understanding in the team which affects how the code might be changed in the future.

Don’t be afraid to inline and unroll, what you learn may surprise you.

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