Code samples not enough anymore

It’s becoming quite common for employers to ask to see code samples from prospective developers. This doesn’t really go far enough.

The next step up is to see the VCS history as well. A small sample – say, a couple of hours of work – can reveal a lot about how a person works – more than the code itself. Do they write tests first, or do they backfill later? Do they refactor their code to promote readability? Do they commit regularly, with meaningful comments, or do they just push bits in randomly?

With good free VCS hosting – like GitHub and BitBucket – anyone can easily create sample code and put it online for your potential employer to see.

So the next time an employer asks for a code sample, take it up a notch and give them the entire history as well. (And yes, I practice what I preach)

Author: Robert Watkins

My name is Robert Watkins. I am a software developer and have been for over 20 years now. I currently work for people, but my opinions here are in no way endorsed by them (which is cool; their opinions aren’t endorsed by me either). My main professional interests are in Java development, using Agile methods, with a historical focus on building web based applications. I’m also a Mac-fan and love my iPhone, which I’m currently learning how to code for. I live and work in Brisbane, Australia, but I grew up in the Northern Territory, and still find Brisbane too cold (after 22 years here). I’m married, with two children and one cat. My politics are socialist in tendency, my religious affiliation is atheist (aka “none of the above”), my attitude is condescending and my moral standing is lying down.

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