Too much code, too few releases…

(or: release late, release seldom).

I don’t know about you, but I have sort of one-man sprints on some of my modules when for days on end I take my laptop on trains and squeeze in time at lunch or whenever to refactor or enhance modules. The only trouble is that I’m very (read: too) particular about the quality of the code I release to the public. I want to make a good impression. I want it to have good test coverage. (Or at least some test coverage). I want it to have good docs, with an overview, an API guide, and a cookbook. I want it to have a roadmap so people can see what to expect. (And what not to expect).

But of course all that takes time and energy from the limited pool of time and energy at my disposal. And I have several projects, all competing for that same time and energy, not all of them related to Python or programming at all. Like most developers, I suspect, I’d far rather be writing new code, juicing up existing code, refactoring code for the new generation of language features, breaking code out into nicely layered, suitably decoupled modules. It’s not that I don’t value docs, test, etc. I do. But someone’s got to write them. And that’s me.

Also I don’t want to go public with an underwhelming feature-set. I don’t want people saying, “Oh good… Oh no! Where’s….?” So I go on extending the code forever and never actually releasing. The Perfect is the proverbial enemy of the Good.

The case in point at the moment is the rewrite of my active_directory module (cunningly entitled active_directory2). It’s more or less of a ground-up rewrite with a very similar API but more structure and layering etc. etc. The rewrite’s been on the go for well over a year in bits & pieces. The trouble is that the original module works fine for most of what I want. Very occasionally I need something more sophisticated and I can usually cobble something suitable together for the occasion. So there’s only a low incentive level.

Testing it’s a bit of a ‘mare as I need an test AD rig. Obviously. So, courtesy of the PSF MSDN Subscription — which, it seems to me, was created for just this kind of situation — I’ve installed a VM containing Windows 2003 Small Business Server. This is about the smallest modern server which will host Active Directory. This setup has the slight advantage that it forces me to test AD authentication since, in an inversion of the norm, I’ve already logged onto my laptop before firing up the AD server so it can’t be the authenticating agent for my account.

I’ve got the top two layers working and I’m looking at tests — at the very least, exercise tests: ie those which simply call every function just to make sure it doesn’t completely fall over. Then I’ll probably release it as a work in progress while working on the more sophisticated extra layer which does some transparent transformations to and from Python types based on the schema definition of the AD object and which handles things like memberOf entries in a more Python way.

Watch this space…