This week, some lessons in spotting suspect code by its odor, why IT wages aren't rising, and new web APIs that you'll be using in 2013.
The smell of code
Lots of people are writing about code smells recently. This is a wonderfully compact and evocative phrase signifying telltale signs in code that deeper problems may be lurking. Smells aren't bugs, they are pointers to possible trouble.
Next, Harry Roberts enumerates some smells in CSS, including: styles that undo earlier styles; use of "magic" numbers; qualified selectors; using !important reactively; and seveal others. (In a comment, Roberts begs readers not to hold his own code, that behind the blog, to the standards he describes.) This post makes excellent follow-on reading to About CSS Architecture.
The idea of code smells isn't new -- the term dates to the late 1990s when it was coined by Kent Beck. Coding Horror's Jeff Atwood wrote a piece on the subject in 2006. The term "code smells" is also used by practitioners of agile development.
Why are IT wages flat?
The Economist Policy Institute has released a detailed report on the employment situation for IT workers, particularly those with CS degrees. One finding that may not come as news to anyone who has been in the field over the last decade: wages have been essentially flat since 2000, rising less than inflation, despite the fact that "software is eating the world." The downward wage pressure caused by offshoring is partly to blame, according to the EPI report; the recession and the lingering economic weakness in its aftermath account for the rest.
The EPI report was written to counter lobbying by Microsoft (PDF) for the US government to open up 20,000 new "STEM visas" for technical workers. Microsoft has long contended it cannot find enough people to hire in the US; the fact seems to be that they cannot find enough people to hire at the below-market wages the company prefers to pay.
Five upcoming web APIs
I won't summarize them here; go read Maccaw's fine explication of why each will be important. The web platform just keeps getting richer.
The Friday Four gives a hat tip each week to Ron Miller, whose collection of five links for developers and IT pros runs weekly on Ness.com.