Technical Debt

It seems particularly relevant during this credit crunch to be talking about Technical Debt – the debt you owe when implementing a solution in a quick and dirty way, which accrues interest every time you need to alter or add to the code, and can be paid off by taking time to refactor the code.

The metaphor is particularly useful when trying to balance the desire to create maintainable code with business demands for quick results. Incurring the debt may be a sensible, strategic business decision, but one should always plan on paying off the debt later, and how much later affects the interest payments accrued in the meantime.

One thought on “Technical Debt

  1. I always encourage my clients to let me build a prototype first. That way I can write quick and dirty code and get something in front of them right away. The idea is that will help reduce development time in the future by paying up front for a prototype. Incurring debt in your analogy.

    Problem is that clients see the prototype and encourage me to develop off of it thereby turning a good investment in time into a bad one.

    Well they ever learn? :)

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