Code Kata Nr. 2

Since after the first Kata we’ve completed I received quite good feedback, we went on with a second one. I thought this time we’d start from something simple, having the possibility to complicate the exercise as much as possible. The basis of the Kata was again a little quiz from, namely string equations. However, I modified the syntax a little bit  to better fit for Java and avoid frustration from teams side.

So the exercise itself sounds like this:

  1. Given a string in the form ‘word1’ & ‘word2’ & ‘…’ == ‘wordn’ & ‘wordn+1’ & …, called a string equation. The two sides are equal if and only if the left side (without the apostrophes and &s) is an anagram for the right side
  2. Words might contain asterisks (yeah, yeah. I know… Words usually don’t contain such characters. But anyway, let’s just stick to the exercise) . Words that contain an odd number of asterisks are invalid ones, so they should be removed. Such a way they don’t count at the final anagram check. (I reached this point in a two-round kata, you can see my solution on my github page:—string-equations)
  3. Words that are palindrome (are the same read from the beginning and end) don’t count either.

We had an hour resolved for the Kata; I asked the guys to take extra cares of two things:

  • Self explanatory names (classes, methods, variables etc)
  • Correct usage of assert functions of JUnit

The first round took 20 minutes, all the pairs opted to work on the basic version of the kata. After the first round we had two complete solutions. At the discussion after the first round I was glad to hear the guys talking about writing much more unit tests then a week before.

In the next round, the two pairs having completed the first version started working on the extended kata, while the others tarted over the basic one (of course everyone had to delete their work so far -not actually delete, but unload it from eclipse).At the end we had again a complete solution, and a halfway-completed one (I told the pairs the main goal was to write clean and tested code, and not to just have a working implementation of the exercise. I see that they still think the only measure of these kata sessions is completely working code. Hope this will change over time. Till then I’ll tell them every time.)

What I saw after looking at the codes the guys wrote, I can say that this kata was even more successful than the first one. More test cases, better collaboration, correct usage of asserts (yeah we have that action point completed! Nicely done guys, we can move on to another one). However, classes and variables have had kind of strange names (I even saw a class named WTF :-)), like p1, p2, k, c etc. I also saw quite many long functions, hard-to-understand logic and overcomplicated algorithms. I definitely think that we are going to need a refactoring workshop, where we can look at several widespread antipatterns, and have them corrected.

Maybe I can arrange it it a week or two.

Author: tamasgyorfi

Senior software engineer, certified enterprise architect and certified Scrum master. Feel free to connect on Twitter: @tamasgyorfi

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