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Showing posts from April, 2008

technical debt as impedance mismatch

My colleague Matt Heusser will be hosting a peer conference on "technical debt" later in the summer. I've been thinking about the subject and realized that technical debt could be interpreted as a kind of impedance mismatch. Impedance mismatch happens in acoustics, electric current, and many other places. Here are a couple of examples that everyone will understand:

trying to fill a swimming pool with an eye dropper

trying to get a drop of water from a firehose

I can think of two software examples from my own career, one involving tools, the other involving skill.

An application I was testing the other day has two javascript prompts in a row. Selenium correctly recognized and dismissed the first prompt, but it is not able to see or manipulate the second one. As a result, I have an unfinished automated test, and technical debt in the form of selenium hacking, manual testing, and future test maintenance. This is the eyedropper-swimming-pool example: no matter how much …