Saturday, September 15, 2007

An idea I had, over at Joel's Business of Software :

Here's a thought.

I was re-reading this a couple of days ago :

http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000348.html

as I'm trying to persuade the overworked developers in the place I work to take some time out for this kind of cleaning.

And it occurred to me that there could be a market for specialist code-cleaners. After all, you have specialist office cleaners instead of making the clerical staff take the Dyson around after work. Why not somewhere you can outsource legacy code to simply be carefully and lovingly refactored and polished without any claim that this company are doing new development?

Normally companies from rich countries imagine they can bang out a few UML diagrams, ship them off where labour is cheaper and have it coded up. We all know that this is a fallacy (coding and designing are too tightly entwined).

But could "take my OK but ugly code, with these existing unit tests, and return it with identical behaviour but all the HTML tags closed and the variable names consistent" be a more viable way of dividing labour?

Anyone know of anyone currently offering this? Could "code cleaning" be a small service business? Maybe even part-time for people who have a few hours free each day to work from home, know how to code, but can't commit to a full development job?
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