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Software Managers all around the globe, need to have some metric to estimate their workers. Sometimes the management event wants to create a precise and measurable way to know the programming progress and the developers productivity and performance. One of those methods is called SLOC – Source Lines Of Code. This metric is used measure the size of the software by counting the lines of the program source code. Some managers tend to love SLOC because it can be automated so it requires very little effort and the effect of it can be visualized. That is exactly what managers like! it is easy and it can be easily inserted into their reports, what could be better than that? It seems just perfect.
Well, those managers forgot one little issue here – this metric does a very poor job in measuring programming progress and developers productivity. I think that the amount of line of code is meaningless and it tells nothing about the project or about the developers. Let me quote Bill Gates: “Measuring programming progress by lines of code is like measuring aircraft building progress by weight“. I would add another analogy: Measuring programming progress by lines of code is like measuring house building progress by size. Building the skeleton of an house takes 3 month while the completion of it takes 1 year. If the construction manager would measure the progress by the size of the house, he would understand that the first three month were very productive while the other nine month were very poor and the workers were lazy! It is the same with software projects, it is more likely to gain the biggest amount of code line by the beginning of the project. Another thing is that it tells you nothing about the complexity of the problem, sometimes using a design pattern can decrease the amount of written code, is it a bad thing? Skilled developers may be able to develop the same functionality with far less code! An experienced developer will implement some functionality in fewer lines of code than another developer with relatively less experience, though they use the same language.
I think that those who use SLOC is wasting their time and I am sure that they can find better things to do, if they don’t – they are just a spoke in the project wheels and they will be more helpful at home. This method creates a negative psychological impact on the developers, a programmer who is being measured in lines of code, will be rewarded for generating more lines of code even though he could write the same functionality with fewer lines. What do you think? is there a possibility that he will “blow” his code with unneeded complexity?
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