Quality customizations to Sage 300 built using Orchid Extender.

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What is a Quality Customization?

A quality customization has many features:

Building Quality Code

Software development is a maturing field and there are well understood ways of quantifying code quality. All quality code shares the following features:

Taken together, these features serve as a guiding foundation on which to build code that is easily understood by other developers, straightforward to test, and quickly adapted to changing business requirements.

Many programming languages, Python included, have an extensive collection of tools that automatically analyze code and identify areas of duplication, run-on units that are difficult to understand, excessive decision complexity, and poorly formatted or styled code.

Quality code passes these analyses. All customizations are automatically analyzed following every change to ensure we are writing quality code from the first line to the last.

What is wrong with duplication?

Duplicated code is difficult to maintain. Instead of making a change in one place, it must be made in may places to keep the application consistent. It is a partial change just waiting to happen!

Code duplication occurs suprisingly often: copy/pasting is often expedient, even in development. In the secure and isolated Extender environment, in some instances it is almost impossible to avoid.

This is one reason we build customizations using Customization Manager, which enables customizations to be distributed as standard Python packages and installed in the environment in a way that makes code reuse simple, eliminating the need to duplicate code.

Why are simple units important?

Quality code is composed of simple units. In the Python world, units are functions and methods: groupings of code that perform a specific task.

We have a limited capacity to hold information in our minds. Just like run-on sentences can be very difficult to understand, long functions require that the developer keep too much in working memory. This often leads to simple over sights and coding errors.

The same is true for functions with many decision branches; it is difficult to understand all the different paths that can be taken through the code. This often results in missed error paths and silent, or halting, failures.

Why should I care about style and maintenance?

Over time customizations, particularly those that automate processes, become a transparent part of a business. If the customizations in place are easy to maintain, they are easily adapted to changing business requirements and conditions. If they are not, the cost of adjusting processes to meet new requirements may rise significantly.

One of the advantage of using Extender and Python to customize Sage is the ready pool of development talent that are capable of working with Python. Code that is not written in a maintable fashion is considerably more expensive for another developer to adjust or update, undermining this advantage and increasing the long term cost of ownership.

Poorly written customizations that are difficult to maintain do not only introduce risk into your business process (customizations can change almost any Sage component, receivables, payables, and G/L included!), they may also lock you in and make it difficult or expensive to change processes or providers in the future.

Customization Manager

Customization Manager was developed to provide the tools required to re-use, test, and analyze code built for the Extender enviroment. It bridges the gaps that inhibit the use of Python programming best practices and standard tools used to assess and maintain code quality.