Exceptional Cow!

Surprisingly, we are not perfect. Shocking. Even after our testing, we sometime release code into production with errors. We try to be good boys by not just ignoring these errors but we get the system to log them and send the info to our tech mailing list. In the Rails world, the excellent Exception Notifier plugin, from the prolific Jamis Buck, makes this a breeze. If you’ve got a Rails project and your not using it, then you should. Go on, get it!

But now what? You’ve got the emails but with the constant pressure to get things done it becomes easy for everyone to just think “Oh, I’m a bit busy, I’ll let one of the other guys do it.” But they don’t, because we’re all busy. Introducing, the Exceptional Cow!

The Exceptional Cow (a Tucows squigy toy)

At our end of iteration review, like all good agile shops, we go through what’s good, what could be done better, what still puzzles us and what we are going to do next time (but details on this are for another post). We also have The Exceptional Cow™.

Whoever has the cow is responsible for triaging all incoming exceptions for that iteration. At the end of each iteration The Exceptional Cow is ceremoniously passed to the next bovine herder. As the cow herder, you have the responsibility of examining all incoming exceptions and fixing it if it is a no brainer or writing it up as a bug for someone else to fix if you don’t have the time or if someone else has a much better grasp on the issue. Quite often all exceptions for the week are attacked in the final hours before we close off the iteration as we don’t want to start new functionality at that point.

What it has done for RedbBubble is make our code more robust which means our customers have a better experience. It also makes everyone just a bit more careful and tolerant of exceptions. It is also a great way to get everyone across parts of the code base they wouldn’t normally look at including the systems side of things. The cow is our friend…

Edit: The Tucows developer blog picked up on my post – Thanks!

  1. Joey deVilla says:

    That’s the best and most practical use for a Squishy Cow that I’ve seen yet! Drop me a line and I’ll send you some Squishy Cow T-shirts.

  2. Nani Bepi Toni says:

    but where can i buy the cow??

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