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Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due...

Although I've been an observant bystander for quite some time, this is my first foray into discussions - patience & advice so greatly appreciated (!) - and since the original question arose during a coffee shop conversation with a colleague of mine who is a Senior Applications Systems Analyst, I thought it fitting to start here, seeking further recommendations. My friend and I discussed a project her office is undergoing to give credit where it is due in their coding, i.e. if certain areas of code were borrowed from other sites/offices, they've been asked to compile a report relating as such. The idea of professional/academic integrity through properly citing code sources, even in small ways, made my "heart [grow] three sizes that day" (Suess, 1957). Along these lines, I'm seeking any/all recommendations for appropriately giving credit where credit it due, preferably within code?

Many thanks!
CN

New York: Random House, 1957. Seuss, Dr. How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

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6 Comments

  • Jun 03 at 04:17 PM

    Very difficult to do with coding.

    Who is to say the programmer should get the credit? Whose to say who the code source actually belongs to? Legally the code is owned by the employees or clients company. But should the owner get credit? If code is reused how much of it needs to be modified before it becomes it's own object deserving of being credited? Are you trying to credit the legally owned syntactic code or the concept behind it?

    As a systems/functional architect I often design and write specs for programs. As I'm sure your analyst friend has done too. The programmer may simply be fingers implementing design. Many times the programmer is totally in the dark how to link data, merge data, or present data.

    Sometimes the programmer is very integral to the design too and has proposed some ideas or better ways of getting and presenting it than I had. At what point does the programmer now become the designer/author?

    In a new building, the architect gets a lot of the credit. Yet it was the carpenters, plumbers and electricians that made it a reality. And probably in the process made many change orders, mods and improvements. Or maybe it was the owner of the property that had a vision that was communicated to the architect who translated it to a design. Who really deserves the credit? Probably all of them deserve acknowledgement to some level.

    It's a noble concept. But I think very difficult to implement when it comes to coding.

    Craig

    • Jun 04 at 07:56 PM

      Craig said all :)

    • Jun 05 at 07:15 AM

      Put very well!

      I might also add that when a sales person reaches their target, they usually get a bonus. Is it really THEIR accomplishment only? Had the raw material not been so good, had the production team not put very good effort, had the external transportation provider not delivered the goods right on time, had we the IT crowd of all people not designed a useful interface for them (let's get some credit eh), would the sales team be able to reach their exact same target?

  • Jun 05 at 10:11 AM

    I think Craig is optimistic when he says "very difficult" :-)

    So someone comes up with a neat idea to do stuff with table X. The next person takes the idea and does something similar with table Y. It is the idea that is borrowed, a structure or algorithm. An automated tool will have a high miss rate and be easy to game.

    If you just spec things and send it offshore for coding then who is the author? You could look at where-used lists, but again if someone has written a super cool object that's used in 1000 places, were they tasked by an architect or was it their idea?

    BUT... This concept you talk about is already quite prevalent in software. It's called open source! Look at GitHub:

    https://github.com/search?q=abap&type=Repositories

    The repos have stars, and a number of forks (people have branched off their own copies). Credit is not just how much something is used or liked, but also how much people contribute.

    The problem is of course that much of your code will be proprietary and/or only relevant to your system. So you could think about an internal repository - could even be a GitHub Enterprise account. Encourage developers to use it, if someone has done something neat, make it generic and re-usable. This may have the added benefit of producing more reusable components.

  • Jun 05 at 11:38 AM

    While reading this serious discussion, I was reminded of the famous Paul DiLascia quote often found in his C++ samples around the mid 90s:

    If this code works, it was written by Paul DiLascia. If not, I don't know who wrote it.

    I'm probably sorry for disrupting the serious discussion...:)

  • Jun 05 at 11:59 AM

    What I've done a couple of times - either within the code or in the corresponding documentation - is to point back to where the idea and/or code came from which I used in a program. This can for example be a thread or blog post here in SAP Community. So, while the main point of doing this was for documentation purposes, it also does give credit.

    Cheers

    Bärbel

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