ndepend, dotnet comments edit

It’s a new year, and with that comes a new version of NDepend - 2017.1. I’ve looked at NDepend before and am a big fan. This time they’ve added a feature that I’m particularly excited about: Technical Debt Estimation

One of the challenges I’ve seen when trying to communicate to non-technical folks about things I find in NDepend is cost. “How much is it going to cost to fix issue X?” Estimation is a tough thing. Now NDepend can help you with that.

First, in your project you need to configure your Issue and Debt settings. This is where you set things like…

  • How many work hours are in a day / work days in a year?
  • What’s the average cost of a person-hour (and in which currency)?
  • What are the various thresholds that define issue severity levels?

There are quite a lot of configuration options. Luckily, NDepend provides a lot of good doc on what the settings mean so you can configure them based on your project/company. And if you have a lot of projects that use the same settings, you can share the settings with a central .ndsettings file.

Issue and Debt settings (click to enlarge)

For my example, I’m just using the default settings.

Once you have that set up and you run analysis, your dashboard will show you your debt “rating” based on the SQALE method and estimate the amount of effort to improve the code to the next rating.

Debt displayed on the dashboard

The little “Explore Debt” button there will open up a query window that shows, for example, how much it would cost to fix each of the various queries you’ve applied to the code.

Debt associated with queries

In this case, you can see that this project has some pretty extensive debt related to the UI talking directly to the data access layer - 47 days’ worth if I wanted to fix it all! However, I might be able to fix up some static field naming conventions in a couple of days and save myself a day’s worth of interest accumulating each year - head it off before it gets too big.

I can also look at a prioritized list of types to fix - places I might get the biggest bang for my buck.

Prioritized type list

How much is it going to cost in terms of money, not just time?

Simple enough, just update your Issue and Debt settings to show both time and money…

Change value format

…and the report automatically updates to reflect that:

Prioritized type list with time and money displayed

Obviously it may take some tweaking of the settings to reflect the situation in your environment, but this is a huge help when it comes to communicating cost/benefit when looking to update code that is working but is worth cleaning up.

And, of course, you shouldn’t let anyone instantly just take it as gospel. It’s a tool. It will help you get started and make it easier to communicate, but you really shouldn’t substitute a generated estimate for something provided by the people actually doing the work.

Go grab yourself a copy of NDepend 2017 and get estimating!

Full disclosure: I got a free personal license from Patrick at NDepend. However, we have also purchased several licenses at work and make use of it to great benefit.

blog, downloads comments edit

Over the years I’ve pushed out a lot of little downloads, source, and code snippets on my blog. Yesterday I finally got all of that moved out of the various little dump sites on disks and in private repos and into GitHub.

I’ll continue updating links and adding things when I find them, but you should be able to see most everything there:

  • Repositories (contain more fully-fledged projects and things that can be built)
  • Gists (contain one-off files and snippets)

It was kind of a blast from the past looking at some of that stuff. I can see how I’ve changed styles and improved. Who doesn’t look at stuff they wrote 10 years ago and shake their head?

I could also see where I used certain tools or tech back then and don’t anymore. Like… remember when T4 didn’t exist and CodeSmith was the way to generate things? Anyone remember the Prototype JS library? Building with NAnt?

I can’t promise all of it will compile as-is. For example, I see a lot of VS 2003 and VS 2005 solutions in there. Will that straight-up convert to VS 2015+? Your guess is as good as mine.

Anyway, it felt good to get things centralized, even if it’s not all stellar code.

personal, family, humor comments edit

Captain’s Log: December 9, 2016.

School has been canceled for the second day in a row. The school district claims this is due to “potential safety concerns” for people coming in from higher elevations where there may be ice and snow, but our vessel is less than one mile from the school and there is nothing on the ground, nor is there anything falling from the heavens.

I think it’s a plot.

Of the regular crew of three, only two of us remain on board. The XO has gone on an away mission to work leaving me here with the first mate. I am attempting to address my standard duties but the first mate, being (what I understand is) a typical six-year-old, is fairly needy and in a constant attempt at mutiny.

I have considered throwing her in the brig but given the smallish size of the vessel, such sentences don’t last very long and definitely don’t have the desired effect. I have, however, informed her that if she continues her mutinous trend that her very life may be in danger. We’ll see how long she lasts when I throw her overboard into the icy waters.

There is constant rumblings of “nothing to do” and “super bored,” the suggested remedy for which is, naturally, “more television.” I have suggested several alternatives based on the diversions available on board, including - but not limited to - Barbies, Magnatiles, LEGOs, art projects, Playmobil make believe, stuffed animals, play kitchen, tea parties, dress up, and other various combinations of toys with inventive scenarios. None of these placate the desires of the restless first mate.

I find interruptions from the first mate come in at regular 15 minute intervals, almost as though she has a timer set somewhere. I will log such an interruption as an example here:

I was sitting in my office attempting to work through the daily reports. As I was sitting here, I heard a small but growing call.


I raced from my office to find the cause of the call. The first mate was sitting eating breakfast.

“What is it, Phoenix? Are you hurt? With the amount of screaming, you’d best be really injured or bleeding or something.”

“I just wanted to tell you I love you.”

“NO. No, you don’t get to just screeeeam for no reason and then try to get away with it. Finish eating your breakfast.”

This sort of interruption occurs, as mentioned, fairly regularly. Either a call comes in or the first mate enters unannounced to make a nonsensical request.

I would ship her off to a neighboring vessel to play with one of her crewmates but I’m unfamiliar with the other ships’ captains so that’s not really an option. I believe one of her crewmates lives across the street. I will make a note to become more familiar with that vessel so I am not caught by surprise like this again.

Should our boat sink within the next few hours, this log explains the brewing storm being faced. There is a high probability that the first mate’s mutiny will succeed before the XO returns. When I am done with this log I will raise a distress call on the radio to see if any help may be coming. I have little hope.

teamcity, dotnet, build comments edit

I’ve run across more than my fair share of times, particularly early on in a project, where I need to flush the NuGet package cache for my TeamCity build agents. This has usually involved connecting to each agent in Remote Desktop and doing some manual commands or delete operations.

No more!

Instead of manually flushing the NuGet package cache, create a build configuration that does it for you.

Create a build configuration that isn’t attached to any source. The point of this build is to execute a script as the build user so the appropriate package cache gets cleared.

In the build configuration, add a single “Command Line” build step. Set the working directory to %teamcity.tool.NuGet.CommandLine.DEFAULT%\tools - this is where TeamCity has its default NuGet command line installation. For the custom script, put this:

echo ##teamcity[buildNumber '%build.counter% (%teamcity.agent.name%)']
nuget.exe locals -clear all

The first line sets the build number so you can see which agent ran it easily from the top-level dashboard. The build number will look like #24 (my-agent-name) The second line runs the actual NuGet package cache clearing command to ensure all the various cache locations get purged.

Now all you need to do is queue a build and target the agent you want to flush - it runs in a second or two and you’re done. No more need to connect and do it all manually.

halloween, costumes comments edit

This year we had 184 trick-or-treaters. It’s a huge improvement over last year, but not one of the larger years.

2016: 184

Average Trick-or-Treaters by Time Block

Year-Over-Year Trick-or-Treaters

Halloween was on a Monday and, while it had rained earlier, was pretty clear otherwise.

This year they started doing a “Harvest on Main Street” event in my city which had an unknown impact on the trick-or-treat count. I know some friends who went to this instead of going door-to-door. It looked fun, so if they do it next year we may have to check it out. An indirect impact of this, of course, is that it means fewer people available to hand out candy, which could cause fewer kids to travel down certain streets.

We shut down at 8:00p to get Phoenix into bed (since that’s bedtime). I foresee this being the case for a few more years. The 8:00p - 8:30p range has always been where things taper off anyway, so it’s not a major impact.

Cumulative data:

  Time Block
Year 6:00p - 6:30p 6:30p - 7:00p 7:00p - 7:30p 7:30p - 8:00p 8:00p - 8:30p Total
2006 52 59 35 16 0 162
2007 5 45 39 25 21 139
2008 14 71 82 45 25 237
2009 17 51 72 82 21 243
2010 19 77 76 48 39 259
2011 31 80 53 25 0 189
2013 28 72 113 80 5 298
2014 19 54 51 42 10 176
2015 13 14 30 28 0 85
2016 1 59 67 57 0 184

Our costumes this year:

I didn’t actually pick a specific character this year, I just happened to like the pattern I found. I learned, however, that saying, “I’m a safari guy” or something to that effect wasn’t satisfactory to most people, who really wanted me to be a character. I had a few people think I was Dr. David Livingstone (“Dr. Livingstone, I presume.”) That’s fine, but it was interesting to see people struggle to attach a specific person to the outfit.

It makes me wonder how one might wear, say, just a historical reproduction costume or an original steampunk costume, and have that just work without it having to be someone specific. You can do that as a witch or a ghost, why not with other costume types?

I walked Phoenix around the neighborhood to do the trick-or-treating while Jenn handed out candy. This year Phoenix was far more into it (plus, no rain) so we went all over the neighborhood. At one point I actually had to pull out Google Maps because I couldn’t see the street signs and had gotten all turned around. We also nearly hit some houses twice since Phoenix really didn’t want to follow any orderly plan of attack.

Next year I think I’ll approach this in a more prepared fashion, with a map where I can mark down which street(s) we’ve hit and maximize the candy retrieval operation.