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Building Software Teams by Zeeger Lubsen, Gijs Wijnholds, Sylvan Rigal, Joost Visser

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Chapter 10. Manage Usage of Third-Party Code

Oscar Wilde: “I wish I had said that.” Whistler: “You will, Oscar; you will.”

James McNeill Whistler

Best Practice:

  • Manage the usage of third-party code well.

  • Determine the specific advantages of using an external codebase, and keep third-party code up-to-date.

  • This improves the development process because using third-party code saves times and effort, and proper third-party code management makes the system’s own behavior more predictable.

Third-party code is code that you have not written yourself. It comes in several variants: sometimes in the form of a single library, sometimes in the form of a complete framework. The code can be open source and maintained by a (volunteer) community, it can be a paid product that derives from open source code, or it can be a paid product using only proprietary code.

There is a lot of third-party code and there are good reasons to use it. However, managing the use of third-party code requires a policy based on the right requirements for your team and/or organization.

Motivation

While using third-party code may feel like being out of control (you are not the writer or maintainer of the code), it comes with a lot of benefits. For one, it saves you from having to “reinvent the wheel,” and so saves you development effort. Usually, third-party code has also passed some form of quality control.

Using third-party code is, however, not trivial: external code can become outdated, cause security ...

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