dateo. Coding Blog

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How much is enough?

Dennis Frühauff on July 30th, 2019

Today, even in the age of agile, people still tend to use terms like the “man month” in software engineering. Customer deadlines, tight schedules often lead to the conclusion that, to make up for something misplanned in the past, you can always put more manpower into a project and everything will be fine.

Needless to say, this is a management perspective (or, rather, a consultant perspective). Now, of course, software developing can be a parallel process, but when it comes to integrating those parallel tracks into one, the whole thing becomes very linear, especially in terms of debugging.

Being a developer myself, I tend to feel that putting more personnel into a late project is a very risky thing to do. When discussing these things with the persons in charge, the question will eventually come up of how much developers a project or, more precisely, code base, can stomach. Second, being a physicist originally, I also like numbers and statistics. This is why I am writing this post.

I would like to get a grip on answering this question with more data than only from my own experience. For this I need the help of the community. I feel that some of you might find this topic interesting as well.

So, in order not to compare apples and oranges, we need a few rules.

  • We are talking about high-level, object-oriented projects/code bases (C#, Java, Kotlin, Cpp) and not about embedded, scripts, etc, which is a totally different story.
  • We need figures like number of files and/or lines of code and number of active developers, may even number of software testers. Rough estimates should be okay for the start. Also, the type of the project/product could be relevant. Feel free to name it if you like.
  • We are talking clean code, e.g., one class per file. We include unit tests and similar, not only “productive” code.

I will of course provide the first data myself:
Language: C# Project type: Rich-client, multi-app solution Number of active devs: 25 Number of software testers: 10 Code base: 10,000 files and growing.

I will be happily reading your comments!

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