Wednesday, November 15, 2023

A Coding Copilot

When developing software, I spend most of the time thinking & talking about the problems to solve: the what, the why and the how. The thinking-part works best for me when I'm actually away from the desktop, such as walking outdoors or even when grabbing a cup of coffee & a banana by the office kitchen. 🍌

Talking is a really nice thing, we should try that more often in combination with listening to what others have say. Even when not having any human around to chat with, there is always the rubber duck. Speak to it!

Problem Solving

Mob programming takes the Thinking & Talking to the next level. I am, strangely enough, surprised almost every time how great mob and pair programming is for software development. I tend to forget that. It's probably easy to fall back into old familiar behavior.

When figuring out what to try out, the actual typing is done pretty fast for me. A big part of the productivity boost is inspiration and the joy of solving problems with programming. I think this is valid for most creative and problem-solving work.

Everyday practicing

I try hard every day to write clear & concise code. Practicing, learning ... and walking. I really like the Functional approach to programming: separating data from behavior, actions from calculations. I should probably use GitHub Copilot or ChatGPT more, but haven't yet found the need to go all-in (aren't the AI suggestions a bit verbose, or am I doing things wrong?). Those types of in-editor copilots are cool, definitely, and are for sure here to stay. Currently, I find more value in a different kind of automated guidance.


When working on my Open Source Project, the Python tools for the Polylith Architecture, I am guided by tools like SonarCloud and CodeScene. I guess there are some AI involved quite heavily in there too. I especially appreciate the code reviews & even more the CodeScene long-term analysis about the effects of Tech Debt. It's like having a co-pilot, or even a Teacher, guiding you during the development to make you a better software developer than before.

This is different from the kind of review a team of humans usually do when sharing feedback on Pull Requests or even during mob programming sessions.

Even if I sometimes disagree with things the tools report on being a problem, I go ahead and refactor the code anyway. Then, when doing the refactoring, I quickly realize that the code is actually transforming into something simpler and clearer than before. SonarCloud is more into the low level details, and lets me know about code duplications or code smells. We don't want that, no. Better fix that too.

Coding Style

The feedback from these kind of tools is helping me to get closer to writing the type of code I want to write: minimalistic, readable and functional. A coding style that also is a very good fit for the Polylith Architecture, even if that thing isn't about how the code is written. You are encouraged to write in a readable & functional style by the structuring of code and by having all code at your fingertips, ready to experiment with in the REPL or in a Notebook.

CodeScene, SonarCloud and Polylith: all of them helping me in my journey to be a better Developer. Maybe I'll throw in Copilot in there too eventually.

Top Photo by Jamie Templeton on Unsplash

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