Technical Debt

Technical Debt, Episode 1

By Michael "Doc" Norton

35 minApr 2016

Technical Debt - that phrase might not mean what you think it means. It most certainly didn't originally mean what it commonly means today.

In this series, we discuss technical debt in depth; what is it, why do we use the debt metaphor, how do we track it, and what should we do about it and when?

We'll talk about the origins of the metaphor and how the metaphor changed over time. We'll take a look at ways of identifying technical debt from AB & Multivariate testing to Complexity, Coverage, Duplication, and Coupling. We'll discuss when to pay down a debt and when to leave it well enough alone by combining our quality metrics along with information on churn and utilization. And we'll discuss techniques that can help when we decide to pay down the debt such as code profiling and the mikado method.

In this first episode on Technical Debt, we take an in-depth look at the history of the metaphor. We'll see how the original definition presumed clean code and how, over time, the metaphor came to be synonymous with messy code.

We'll learn about the Technical Debt Quadrant and look at how it helps us better understand Technical Debt and provides us some beneficial distinctions between types of Technical Debt.

In this episode, we also discuss alternatives to the metaphor and explore what it might look like if other industries had adopted similar metaphors.

All of this leads to a better understanding of the phrase "Technical Debt" and sets the stage for our future conversations.