Archive for September, 2004

Stucklist

Tuesday, September 14th, 2004

I’ve always meant to write down a programming “stucklist”. It’s a list which you consult when you’re stuck. Maybe it tells you that you’re solving the wrong problem. Maybe it provides inspiration to fix the problem in a different way. Either way, when you’re under deadline pressure and your brain is dribbling out of your ears, a stucklist might just provide a way out. So, without further ado, here’s my initial stucklist:

Avail yourself of more facts
Can you solve a different problem?
Get out of the office and go for a walk.
How can else you make the problem go away without coding a fix for it?
Could you make the endusers avoid the problem area?
Go home and do something less boring instead.
Look at a more general version of the problem.
Or consider a more specific version of the problem.
Is it actually so bad not to fix the problem?
Fix one or more of the variables to simplify the problem
Grab someone, say “I’m a bit stuck” and throw some ideas around
Get someone else to fix it (evil bonus: they have to fix the fix too)
Can you buy in a solution, or spend money to make the problem go away?
Tell your manager that you’ve hit a problem and see if you can have more time, or redistribute work.
Get everyone else to workaround/avoid the problem area
Code a solution using a different style – recusive/iterative, stateful/pure, push/pull, table-based/computed.
How would you solve the problem if you had infinite memory or a super-fast CPU?
Can you put any supporting framework in place which makes the problem easier to fix?
Draw a diagram – I find it’s easier to walk through examples when you can look at something and point at it.
Assume that there’s a way to progress which doesn’t involve solve this problem – can you find it?

[Update: I've since found this page on the c2.com wiki which is similar]