I admit that I am a bit of a spelling and grammar Nazi. It drives me to absolute distraction when I read something and notice a spelling mistake, particularly if it is on a “professional” site such as a news or business site. When I see something like that, I am unable to take the information on the site seriously. Perhaps I am a bit OCD but it is one of those things that says – “Get a copy editor before you hit the Publish button!” 88| And, just in the interest of disclosure, I am not always great at editing my own work so I often will have someone else review it for me just to help ensure I haven’t missed something.
However, beyond what a site looks like (which I hope to cover in another blog post a bit later), there is something that, as a developer, still drives me to distraction. How often have you had to review work done by someone else to make modifications? And, within that code, how often have you seen spelling mistakes in the names of variables, functions or other objects in code that are meant to be re-used? For example, I came across this just recently – a SQL stored procedure with the name “Secuirty”. This is an obvious misspelling and one that can have significant consequences for other devs who may need to reference this particular SP. I, for one, will attempt to reference the SP “Security” and, when it fails, be at a complete loss as to why the object cannot be found. I will then have to stop my own development for some period of time to troubleshoot why my code doesn’t work. Perhaps it will be only 5 minutes to realize that some other dev can’t spell something so obvious, maybe it’ll take a few hours thinking the problem must be in my own code (I’ll never suggest that I’m a perfect coder and I always look to my own code first when I have a problem). Regardless, it’s wasted time on something that should be fairly simple.
Now, understand that I’m not criticizing developers who cannot spell. I’ve known more than a few who could spell no better than Terry Bradshaw, but in most of the shops I’ve worked in, there was some sort of review process or at least a developer lead who did code reviews before it was put into production. Things like this should be caught before code is put into production because, let’s face it, once the code is put into production, it’s nigh on impossible to fix later on because of later dependencies or interrelated code elsewhere in the applications (or even external apps that may call it such as in the case of services).
Maybe this is a small point to some but I believe it can have serious implications down the line. It speaks to a lack of professionalism in that something such as a simple misspelling can be perpetuated for the lifetime of an application. Equally important, it can lead to wasted time trying to troubleshoot a problem tied to a simple misspelled word in an application. When the ultimate point of an application is to make things easier, it seems rather oxymoronic (I’m pretty sure that is a word and, if it’s not, then I’m making it up now) that the process of creating a more efficient world is an inefficient process created by something as simple as a misspelled wyrd.