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  1. #1
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    Slow programming (VB6)

    For well over 2 years now my boss has told me that my programming takes too long. However, it has become more and more frequent and I dont actually remember doing a piece of work in the last 6 months that either the boss or his right hand man didnt end with "why did it take so long".

    The most obvious differences between us are that they both code "to get it done" and I always try and code "to a standard". I always try and add a decent level of error handling and comments, I include the options we're supposed to use, the form objects are consistant etc.
    However, my inability to cut corners cant be my only negative point and I really can't think of a method to identify where i'm going wrong.

    For the last 2 years i've managed to ignor it, but its finally started to have an effect (desired or otherwise) and i'm starting to doubt my programming ability. Does anyone have any good methods of identifying coding speed issues?

    I've been planning on emailing management for a few weeks now, but I cant really put "I know you think i'm slow, but I dont know where i'm slow, any ideas?" can I!

    Some of you seem like you may have managerial experience so I thought it couldnt hurt to ask.

    Regards,

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  3. #2
    WS Lounge VIP rory's Avatar
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    Re: Slow programming (VB6)

    Phil,
    I would say that this is impossible for us to answer as there are far too many variables. Do they have a basis for what they say - i.e. do they give you a timeframe for any jobs, and you overrun it? Are they programmers themselves and are the sort of programming jobs you do comparable to what they do? Do their applications crash regularly? Do yours?
    At the end of the day, most managers seem to think everything takes too long but unless they have a yardstick to measure against and you are constantly falling short, I don't really see how you can live up to their expectations! <img src=/S/grin.gif border=0 alt=grin width=15 height=15>
    My <img src=/S/2cents.gif border=0 alt=2cents width=15 height=15>
    Regards,
    Rory
    Microsoft MVP - Excel.

  4. #3
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    Re: Slow programming (VB6)

    I did try and think of how to highlight examples before I posted, but I couldnt think of a way. However:

    do they give you a timeframe for any jobs - YES
    and you overrun it? - YES
    Are they programmers themselves - YES
    and are the sort of programming jobs you do comparable to what they do? - YES
    Do their applications crash regularly? - YES
    Do yours? - NO (occasional issue as expected but nowhere near as much)

    Based on my answers to your questions, the problem is obvious to me - but I dont think i'll be able to get the boss to see it that way!

    They never seem to account for any problems you encounter. They seem to get an idea of how they'd tackle the task and how long it'd take them and thats pretty much how long I get.
    I see what you're saying about never living up to their expectations but surely thats not a good mental working state to be constantly in? I was hoping there maybe a manager knocking around the forum that had experienced slow programmers before and knew of some good suggestions <img src=/S/grin.gif border=0 alt=grin width=15 height=15> it was worth a try.

    Thanks though Roy.

  5. #4
    4 Star Lounger SteveH's Avatar
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    Re: Slow programming (VB6)

    Do you use any utilities to help you with 'standard code' and jobs like commenting and indenting?

    MZ-Tools and Smart Indenter are two that I swear by (and they are <img src=/S/free.gif border=0 alt=free width=30 height=15>)
    Steve H
    IT Lecturer/Access Developer
    O2K SR3/O2010; Win7Pro

  6. #5
    WS Lounge VIP rory's Avatar
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    Re: Slow programming (VB6)

    In terms of suggestions, there's not much I can say other than to build up a library of core code routines for the things you need most often. Beyond that, I think it's a question of "Well begun is half done" - i.e. plan exactly what you need to do and how you think it best to approach something before you start (you probably already do this). I can't be more specific than that really.
    It sounds like a pretty bad working situation to be in and I think your only options are:
    1. Get a new job! <img src=/S/smile.gif border=0 alt=smile width=15 height=15>
    2. Keep track of how many times their applications crash/ how much time is spent on supporting them versus your own applications.
    3. Next time they give you a deadline that you think is unreasonable, challenge them to meet it!
    4. Related to 3, ask them which is more important to them - getting a product out soon, or getting an error-free product out later.
    Obviously some of these are more realistic than others, but it sounds like you might be in need of drastic solutions...
    Regards,
    Rory
    Microsoft MVP - Excel.

  7. #6
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    Re: Slow programming (VB6)

    Thanks for the tip Steve. I use both of those tools. I have used MZ tools for a few years now, but you highlighted smart indent to me a couple of months back - has come in very handy as the bosses right hand man uses a widescreen laptop and has a habbit of tabbing things in about 6 times - meaning a couple of IF statements later and the code doesnt even appear on my screen - until I smart indented everything!

    Thanks for your tips Roy.
    1 would be tempting, but its on my doorstep. Unless i'm very lucky i'd probably end up with a 2 hour commute to london - so thats a last resort really.
    2 is a good idea. We have a CRM system where users issues get logged so I might have to spend some time going through that looking for a pattern I can put into a graph. However, proving that theirs crashes more than mine probably wont change the fact that i'm seen as a slow programmer.

    We've just employed a new developer who will be helping us with structure/standards etc so hopefully things will improve. If they dont, and I cant come up with a speedier coding plan, i'll have to cross that bridge when I come to it. Thanks for your input guys.

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    Re: Slow programming (VB6)

    > they both code "to get it done" and I always try and code "to a standard"
    There is a difference between a classic piece of programming code, designed to be read by thousands over the years and a quick and dirty TEST macro to demonstrate a facet of the language. And there is a continium.
    The words "compromise" and "trade off" come to mind.
    I like to think my standards are high, because whenever I cut corners, I pay for it down the road (during the maintenance and enhancement phase).

    My best techniques for rapid development of applications are
    (1) Write extremely small procedures. 3-liners are just fine. Small procedures always work; large procedures rarely work the first time
    (2) Amass the procedures in a utility library. The time take to locate the procedure is less than the time it takes to re-write and debug the device.

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    Re: Slow programming (VB6)

    By "to get it done", that applies to stuff for customers. The average scenario follows: customer demands changes and give us 2 weeks > code gets written so it works. I prefer to put in some comments so others can follow my code when i'm off, put in tidier error handling than on error msgbox err.description and generally account for things that may be wrong (incorrect data formats passed, null values etc).... Hence everything takes be so long in comparison.

    From what i've read, small functions will be easier when i eventually get round to migrating to .Net. Some parts of VB6 aren't very "small procedure" friendly. A good example would be the chunk of code to send Outlook appointments. Our attempt is written in line with a coding standard (rather than just thrown together) and comes out at 50 lines. I can't honestly see a way of getting it much smaller while keeping the current functionality. Theres tons of other examples but that was the only one I could think of that has a better than average (for us at least) standard.

    I definately see your point about keeping things smaller eventually speeds things up.

    Does everyone have their own library? If not, how to you find things in other peoples library? There are plenty of re-usable functions in our main project, but knowing they're there and finding them due to poor naming is a whole different story!

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    Re: Slow programming (VB6)

    Thanks Chris.

    I do have a small library of re-usable code I find useful, so its not that I dont do that at all. I generally try to be kept informed about any such functions that the other 2 developers put in the app, but sometimes its like looking for a needle in a haystack.

    As for the due dates, i've never been involved in taking on the work. I don't think i'd be very good at it as i'm the sort of person that would ask the customer if they want a buggy piece of software in 2 weeks or a decent app in 6 weeks, which apparently customers don't like - my logical mind has never managed to comprehend that though - if it was me i'd go for 6 weeks every time!

  11. #10
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    Re: Slow programming (VB6)

    > looking for a needle in a haystack.

    Try my VBProject Manager (Proje082.
    Amongst other things, it will scan your hard drive (or LAN, I suppose) and harvest every scrap of VBA code into a searchable library.
    "Catch the Code, Paste the Procedure."

  12. #11
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    Re: Slow programming (VB6)

    > customer demands changes and give us 2 weeks
    Bottom line: if your client demands 2 weeks without a prior discussion of what's involved, it's the rock-and-hard-place scenario.
    I try to quantify work before taking it on, and then live with my errors in estimation. I get better at it as time goes by.

    >small functions will be easier when i eventually get round to migrating to .Net.
    I debate this. It's never too early to start writing small procedures, or to dissemble unwieldy procedures into manageable components.
    Waiting for .Net is going to cut you out of savings NOW!

    >Does everyone have their own library?
    I do.
    You can download a Word utility library from my downloads page, and learn a bit about how to use it from my blog: http://chris-greaves-utils.blogspot.com/
    About half the procedures in the UW.dot are generic string-handling - directly applicable to any VB environment.
    About half the procedures in the UW.dot are also available in the UX.XLA.

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