Been reading http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2012/07/new-programming-jargon.html, and thinking about how many I’ve dealt with and how many I’ve written.

When a project grows, there is going to be an unavoidable accumulation of tech debt as methods and objects are moved and expanded to handle new requirements.  Eventually you get to the point where trying to change anything results in a plethora of bugs and crashes.  You’ve hit the refactor zone.

The biggest challenge is convincing project management that the refactor is needed, since changes to the “plumbing” don’t advance the revenue-generating features that they want to get out ASAP.  Even worse, the refactor will take time, since you have to retest every bug fix and feature that got the code here in the first place.

Best bet is to follow the Agile Methodology of Constant Refactoring – whenever you see something that doesn’t look right, fix it.  This way net tech debt grows more slowly, or even shrinks, and Product isn’t counting the opportunity cost of your refactor since you’re still adding features.

Also remember, “Clever” is a four-letter word.  Doing something weird and clever that saves 3 machine instructions or lets you write an entire function in one line of code will only bite you later.  Not only won’t anyone else understand it, but when you have to change it in 6 months you’ll wonder what the f— you were thinking at the time.  Trust me- been there, done that, bought the t-shirt at thinkgeek.com .