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There are no best practices

with 4 comments

Last week I had a good retweet day. As always when that happens, I said something cocky and over-simplified. I blame 140 characters; the perfect excuse to simplify things to become more edgy. This time the tweet was:

I hate best practice. If you follow best practice you will end up with Maven, SVN and programming in java (the language) #rest_my_case

I was promptly corrected by @jchyip (Jason Yip):

@johlrogge That’s equating “common practice” to “best practice” which is a very common failure mode. Popularity != best option.

He couldn’t be more right. In fact, I have often felt that what is marketed as best practice is often common practice with a more attractive label. The two are confused a lot. It sort of makes sense too, I mean – if everyone is doing it, it must work. Right? If it wasn’t the best then why would everyone do it? Granted it will probably work just fine, but will probably not be the best, so don’t call it that. Assuming that excellent software development is rare, then best practices should also be pretty uncommon. Given this, you probably shouldn’t be doing what everyone else is doing, if you are going for “best”.

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Written by johlrogge

July 22, 2010 at 6:28 pm

Posted in Agile, methods