The Troutgirl test

May 4, 2005

Everyone in the business knows and agrees with the Joel Test to figure out whether a software organization is top-notch (or even minimally functional — the difference between the two levels may be small). I have to add a couple points of my own, specific to web sites and services:

  • Is the process to set up a dev environment fully documented?
  • Do you solemnly swear that your devs never ever EVER edit code on the live servers?
  • Do your devs meet with operations to discuss deployment concerns before they start writing code?
  • Does development and QA occur against a data set at least one-tenth the size of the live service?
  • Is webdev part of the engineering organization rather than part of product management or design?
  • Is someone in your organization being evaluated on how well the development and staging servers are maintained?

Remember, boys and girls — feel free to ask these questions during your job interviews! If the company can’t answer yes to all of them, think twice about taking the offer.

8 Responses to “The Troutgirl test”

  1. Mike Says:

    I’m sure Google violates some of those “rules” especially considering that the vast majority of their stuff is perpetually beta.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Great points.

    But what if your LAMP production environment includes a MySQL master write and slaves read-only configuration? Setting up a dev workstation with MySQL isn’t the same. In that case, would each developer have only LA-P and then L-M- on a developer cluster?

    BTW troutgirl, some of your older posts have tons of comment spam.

  3. mike Says:

    Any organization that uses mysql isn’t top-notch in my book. One step above script-kiddies.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    LAMP isn’t top-notch?

    Maybe you prefer M$ $QL Blaster worms?

  5. mike Says:

    LOL. Anybody who can’t defend against blaster, and certainly anybody who uses the term “M$”, is NOT top-notch.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    You’re right, Microsoft SQL Server is top-notch. Good luck with that for your top-notch company.

  7. mike Says:

    LOL, anonymous cowards. MS SQL is way better than Mysql. Saying your company uses Mysql is just screaming to the world that you’re one step above script kiddies.

  8. @Troutgirl
    > Do you solemnly swear that your devs never ever EVER edit code on the live servers?

    Are you serious 🙂 Someone asks the interviewer (in a grave voice) – Now do you solemnly swear …

    But seriously I did it once or twice while working at a company for emergency fix when the site went down. If I have to go through formal verification and testing before deploying the fix, the site would have been down for at least 6-8 hours. In this case it was fixed in less than 5 minutes, without any issues afterwords.
    I think like all rules, this also has exceptions, big ones. It depends on who is fixing the site, their knowledge, seriousness and integrity. Everything is associated with risks. Often in real life you take calculated risks.

    > LOL, anonymous cowards.

    That includes you too, with false email address and all. Is your name even real 🙂

    Anyway MS SQL is nowhere near a top-notch database, not even in dreams. I have extensively used MS SQL Server, Sybase, Oracle and MySQL, not to mention other Java based RDBMS & OODBMS. I have some idea about this space.

    Oracle is pretty much the industry leader in this space. Period. MS SQL Server doesn’t come within 10 miles.

    MySQL is poor man’s Oracle. It is a pretty good database with impressive performance, very stable, much better security than MS products including but not limited to MS SQL Server.

    MS SQL Server has numerous issues, fit for discussion elsewhere.

    Your statement implies total lack of knowledge on non-MS databases.

    BTW: As you can probably see I am a real person and not someone at 🙂 Feel free to take this on my blog, sparing troutgirl.

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