This coming Monday, 9 November 2015, I will be making my debut presentation at LRUG, the London Ruby User Group, with a talk entitled Hack like a journalist.

News reporters are trained in techniques to produce stories that are concise, well structured, easy to follow and with a consistent house style. How can those same techniques help us write better code?

Based on my somewhat eclectic career choices, I’ve picked up a number of styles and techniques from working with editorially-minded journalists that have direct parallels in software development.

On Monday, I’ll be looking at one in particular. Following Monday’s presentation, slides and other notes will appear here.

But on this topic, there is far more for me to cover than a single presentation would be able to cover. In fact, even the description above is probably too general. After running through my presentation in front of work colleagues, I’ve edited and refined it, but the description hasn’t really changed.

If I were to resubmit the description, I’d excise “and with a consistent house style” – not because it’s not important (it is, of course) but because I won’t have time to talk about it on Monday. So consider a shorter, more accurate description below:

News reporters are trained in techniques to produce stories that are concise, well structured and easy to follow. How can those same techniques help us write better code?

But I have much more to say than just that. And so, over the course of the next few weeks, I’m going to be writing up a series of blog posts on how the parallels between editorial and software development can encourage to look at our processes and see how they could be improved.

Here’s a rough plan of some of the topics I plan to cover:

  • Writing to be read (an adaptation of Monday’s talk)
  • Code review and subediting
  • Solo working, the virtues of being your own harshest critic
  • Learning to love the style guide

I’ll be tweeting out links to each from my own Twitter account, @scottm – although be aware, you’re likely to find that a whole lot of noise and not much signal.