waiting for the code magician

If your codebase was all cleaned up tomorrow, what would you do with the opportunity? If the code magician made one giant commit that cleaned up all the mess, how would you respond?

The question we have to ask ourselves is, why are we waiting for the magician to come? Thinking that someone else will take care of it isn’t going to cut it anymore. That kind of mindset only made sense in grade school. You have to set this thinking aside if you want things to ever get better. The cleanup job is your whole team’s duty. Your entire team has to step up and do their part to make the system neat and tidy. If you’re waiting for the code magician to save you, you might as well be waiting for Gandalf himself to appear.

In a practical sense, you know it’s ridiculous to wait for the code magician to make things better. You know that no one is going to fix everything overnight. So why hesitate to act? Choosing not to act means secretly waiting for the man in the pointy hat to show up.

And this is the toughest problem. It’s easier to be passive, and wait for someone else to take care of the pain. It’s easy to avoid cleaning up something that’s not specifically your problem. You must commit to make it better, and follow through. If you work with a codebase that’s had to evolve or grow quickly, sooner or later you’ll find some dark alleys. Don’t let yourself look the other way.

about the author

Blake Smith is a Principal Software Engineer and leads the Infrastructure group at at Sprout Social.

Blake Smith

create. code. learn.