24 October 2008

Technical Progress and Joel Test

The Joel Test: 12 simple yes/no questions verbalised by Joel Spolsky in 2000 to determine the pain of developing software in some company. Since he wrote them, I have been using them to check companies if to work for a them or not.

In 2003 and 2004, I "checked" several companies during interviews or asked friends about their jobs. Back then I found that marketing and web design agencies scored lowest (1 out of 12), followed by little software shops and in-house development of small companies (2-3, sometimes up to 4). More seriously working software companies usually reached 6. That was it. Only one out of 20 companies scored 9, still not ideal. (Especially noteworthy was a mobile phone provider with more than 1000 employees having only a score of 3.)

In 2008 while looking for a new job, the companies I met were scoring about 9 or 10. I do not have much data to state any facts, but this feels much better than 4 years ago. The question is if there is such a tendency, a technical progress of the software engineering craft, that could be measured by Joel's test? Or is it just my experience telling me where to look for proper work now?

Update 28 February 2009

All Lies

After accepting an offer of one of these companies I found another reason: They were lying! They said they are able to build the product in one step. Well, that's somehow true but only after changing some hundred configurations in different files. And yes, it's also true that they have daily builds, continuous builds even. But nobody is watching the build status until a new release has to be created. That's hardly what I expect from a daily build. So their real score is 6 at most.

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