Eliminating Friction

The key to becoming a better developer is to make it so The Right Way is also The Easy Way.

Eliminating Friction

Want to write better code?  Eliminate friction around best practices.

Best Practice: Error Logging

DON'T write custom error logging on an as-needed basis.

DO use a global error handler and vbWatchdog to centralize error logging.

Best Practice: Throwing Custom Errors

DON'T maintain some huge master list of custom error numbers.

DO automatically generate unique custom error numbers on the fly.

Best Practice: Version Control

DON'T manually export and import VBA code to text files.

DO use a script or add-in to convert all Access objects to text files.

Best Practice: Don't Repeat Yourself

DON'T copy and paste code snippets from one application to another.

DO maintain a library of code that never breaks backward compatibility.

Best Practice: Professional Installers

DON'T use a wizard-based product with lots of manual steps.

DO use a text/script-based installer creator like Inno Setup.

Investing in the Future

What do all of these things have in common?

In almost all cases, there is a relatively significant upfront investment of time to accomplish the task for the first time.  For example, it probably took me a dozen or more hours to create my first installer in Inno Setup.  Now, though, I can create an extremely professional installer for a new application in under five minutes.

A professional installer in less than five minutes? Now that is low-friction.

Before I switched to using Inno Setup, I used a wizard-based Microsoft product.  It was impossible to recreate installers.  Every installer was a little different than the last one, and there was no easy way to tell how one installer was different from another (do I need Setup-v3.exe or Setup-Final.exe or Setup-Final-New.exe?).

The Microsoft installer was faster the first time.  

But Inno Setup was faster over time.

Moral of the Story

If you want to do things The Right Way™, then invest time upfront to develop a low-friction approach that you can use forever.  

Make it so The Right Way is also The Easy Way.

Referenced articles

Error Handling Evolution
How you handle errors says a lot about you as a programmer. Most people evolve with experience in how they handle errors. From the most naïve to the most advanced, here is what that evolution looks like.
Throwing Errors in VBA
Introducing a frictionless alternative to Err.Raise.
Putting It All Together
I expanded on the original decompose.vbs script. The code below is the culmination of more than 50 individual changes and tweaks over 10+ years.
A Quick, Free Way to Try Version Control with Microsoft Access
Curious about getting started with version control in Microsoft Access, but don’t want to commit a lot of time or money? This could be just the solution for you.
Building Your Library
Thirteen years ago, I chose to maintain a folder of text files rather than a single Access database library. I’ve never once regretted that decision.
Installing and Updating Access Applications
Want to be a professional Access developer? Then you can’t ask your clients to copy and paste .accdb files to their computers. What do you do instead?

Image by Marie Sjödin from Pixabay

All original code samples by Mike Wolfe are licensed under CC BY 4.0