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Lines of Code: How to Feel Good About Yourself

The human brain likes to be rewarded. We get a glow from improvement. The good news is that the tools that we have around us are already here to help.

The problem I find is that many of our metrics – the DORA metrics for example – are actually just management tools for trying to determine flow. And if you mention flow then you end up quickly in a grab bag of management consultancy gobbledygook.

While we can get hung up on throughput, what about pure contributions to a codebase? Everyone says “Don’t measure lines of code, it’s a bad metric”. Well yes and no. It’s a bad metric when comparing contributors, it’s a good metric when you want to see how much work you’ve done individually.

Here’s one that I’m proud of. My contributions to the open-source Music and Notation Editor Rosegarden. In the early 2000s I contributed over half a million lines of code…. I can’t quite believe that myself, actually, but the fact that the project is still going with help from so many others over the last twenty-plus years is an incredible indictment of open-source spirit and community.

So, don’t be ashamed of showing your contributions – no matter how small. It feels good to be a part of something and showing that you’re a part of it takes many ways.

“Lines of code” is actually one way that we can feel like we’ve accomplished something that might stand the test of time.

You can find the Rosegarden github here and do contribute and get involved. I’m still occasionally playing around with a Windows and Mac port on this fork.

Rosegarden MIDI, Audio and Notation Editor