[Sublime + Python Setup] Grumpy old greybeard with a whitespace problem

One fateful day, the Agile Gods that be decided to “add some firepower” to my little team…

And so, developer Paul joined (name changed to protect the guilty).

Before I dive into this story, let me ask you this: Have you ever been on a development team that simply clicked?

My team was like that. We we’re tearing through user stories every day, constructing the backend for a new performance analytics system.

Life was good. We were in sync, had agreed on a code style, were doing continuous integration, code reviews, and continuous deployment.

The whole best practices enchilada. It felt amazing.

Enter Paul:

Based on some previous interactions he seemed to be the “grumpy old man” type —

Undeniably skilled, but also with penchant for doing things his own way, and a slightly short-fused temper.

Some personal hygiene issues aside, he seemed like a nice enough bloke.

Paul’s first code review comes up two days later and I cheerfully open up the pull-request. (Paul “doesn’t really do branches in Git” but eventually we nudged him into compliance.)

GitHub’s website churns for a while as Paul’s code changes load up…

“This feels like it’s loading little slower than usual”, I’m thinking.

And then I get that sinking feeling in my stomach:

The guy is productive… prolific even. But apparently he really enjoys writing 900-line functions, with 7 different levels of nesting, and some loooooong if/else-chains sprinkled on top.


Did I mention he was also a fan of inconsistent spacing?

Stuff like sometimes putting zero, or 1, or… 3 blank lines between functions and statements.

Or, sneaking in extra whitespace around parentheses, and then sometimes leaving it out completely.

There was no discernible rhyme or reason to this code “style”, just a cluttered, random-looking pattern.

Ugly, yes—and a distraction from the real architectural issues in the changeset that needed discussion.

How was I going to share my feedback on Paul’s code?

I was in my late twenties and I’d recently been promoted to a leadership position on the team. Paul was easily twice my age (and it didn’t help that I basically still looked like I was 15).

From past encounters I knew he reacted badly to even the slightest criticism.

So I didn’t want to be the young ankle biter starting a quarrel with the wise greybeard—and yet this code was clearly not up to our team’s standards…

In fact, it was a maintenance liability.

Heck, simply viewing the code diff almost took down GitHub… But let’s not go there again.

Code style is a hot topic for developers. Many of us can nearly come to blows over code style disagreements, something I really wanted to avoid (also the guy was quite a bit taller than me—just kidding).

I’ve been in situations like this before and trying to get the “odd potato” on the team to fall in line when it comes to code style usually doesn’t work. And it’s not worth starting a war about it either.

To get real work done, what counts is that developers enjoy working with each other, code reviews are 99% conflict-free, and people don’t break out into angry shouting matches five times a week…

Like a true engineer, I decided to automate myself out of that conflict.

I put an automated code style checker into place on our continuous integration server.

That way Paul, myself, and the other developers on the team were getting instantaneous code style feedback every time we pushed our changes to the central Git repository.

The important detail here is that with an automated tool the feedback didn’t come from a human being —

It was just a heartless little program that called people out on their formatting inconsistencies and other quirks.

The result: No more hard feelings!

I learned that automated tools can stop a lot of these uncomfortable situations dead in their tracks, before people get emotionally attached to their style decisions.

Instantaneous and automated code style feedback is truly an amazing timesaver.

These days I make sure I never work without it.

Don’t be “that guy” (or gal) for your team and see step by step how to get instantaneous code style feedback right inside Sublime Text:

>> Click here and write more beautiful code in 10 minutes

— Dan Bader

Older messages

[PythonistaCafe] Why PythonistaCafe exists

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Hey there, In one of my last emails I talked about how some online communities in the tech space devolve over time and turn into cesspools of negativity. This relates directly to how and why I started

[PythonistaCafe] What makes PythonistaCafe different

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Hey there, Mastering Python is *not* just about getting the books and courses to study—to be successful you also need a way to stay motivated and to grow your abilities in the long run. Many

[Sublime + Python Setup] Don’t build “nag screen muscle memory”

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Hey there, Once I worked with a developer who refused to buy a registered copy of Sublime for months on end, even though he *loved* Sublime. He used it as his main code editor every day and was very

[Sublime + Python Setup] why Atom can’t replace Sublime

Monday, July 12, 2021

Hey there, "In a nutshell, Atom is a Sublime Text editor that just got better." When I read this quote I got so worked up I nearly fell off my chair. Because every time I've tried Atom or

[PythonistaCafe] Q&A

Monday, July 12, 2021

Hey there, At this point you should have a pretty good idea of what PythonistaCafe is about and what makes it special. In this email I want to answer some common questions that I get asked about the

SpaceX's launch tower 🚀, TikTok Live 📱, oldest animal fossil 🪨

Thursday, July 29, 2021

SpaceX plans to use a giant tower with arms to catch its rockets. TLDR Daily Update 2021-07-29 Skiff is end-to-end encryption for your work (Sponsor) Keep your documents private with Skiff. Skiff is an

[ DuckDuckGo Privacy Weekly ] For Jul 29, 2021

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Inside the Industry That Unmasks People at Scale [vice.com] "Anyone who has a phone and has installed an app that has ads, currently is at risk of being de-anonymized via unscrupulous companies.

Mid-Level Laravel Roadmap, Challenge and 30+ Articles

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Hey hey, Wow, this newsletter is so packed with stuff, I don't really know how you find the time to read/watch all the interesting things. So, without any intro, let's dive in! From my Youtube

[PythonistaCafe] Why PythonistaCafe exists

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Hey there, In one of my last emails I talked about how some online communities in the tech space devolve over time and turn into cesspools of negativity. This relates directly to how and why I started

A quick question...

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Hello there, I was hoping you could spare 15 seconds of your time and let me know why you decided to cancel your Real Python membership? Feel free to just hit reply and fire away. Thanks in advance! —

Slack isn't the best chat software for Linux, macOS, Windows

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Data breach costs hit record high; Delta variant is impacting office reentry plans Subscription | Read Online | Twitter Facebook LinkedIn Top Story of the Day July 28, 2021 Top Story of the Day The

Windows 96 — IPv4 pricing — and Capitol Hill's mystery soda machine

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Issue #478 — Top 20 stories of July 29, 2021 Issue #478 — July 29, 2021 You receive this email because you are subscribed to Hacker News Digest. You can open it in the browser if you prefer. 1 Windows

Daily Crunch - $150M Series D vaults search-as-a-service provider Algolia to $2.25B valuation

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

TechCrunch Newsletter TechCrunch logo The Daily Crunch logo Wednesday, July 28, 2021 • By Alex Wilhelm Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for July 28, 2021. What a day. Duolingo went public. Algolia

JSK Weekly - July 28, 2021

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

July is on its way out, officially taking us into the second part of 2021. If you're interested in testing whether any characteristics of your application have changed, check out "Snapshot

JSK Daily for Jul 28, 2021

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

JSK Daily for Jul 28, 2021 View this email in your browser A community curated daily e-mail of JavaScript news Using BLoC Pattern with React Initially, the Business Logic Component (BLoC) pattern was