DEV Community

loading...

Making a case for english codebase to my boss

grmnsort profile image Germán Rodríguez Ortiz ・2 min read

Hi people :)

I wanted to ask for your advice on a thing that I'm currently struggling with at my job.

For a little context, I'm a web developer from Chile, and currently, I'm in charge of maintaining a very old vanilla PHP codebase. (How old you say? It still has a JSON.php and a PHP4 HTML parser libraries on its assets that I just can't bear to delete from pure nostalgia. Lucky for me the code was barely refactored previously so It works on PHP 7)

At the moment I managed to free some time so I can migrate this codebase to a Symfony project, but I'm having trouble trying to find "solid good reasons" to have the codebase entirely in English.

Before this job, I was pretty much used to have my both my code and comments completely in English, and now having to propose this change to the "brass" I find myself without a reason to make this language change other than the classical:

  • "It´s the standard way"
  • "It kinda makes sense, since the framework is in English"
  • "No need to think on tilde characters" (My heart dies little by little every time I see a agno variable because we should not use año

To me, due to the circumstances, these reasons that make all the sense to me seem more like "aesthetic reasons" for this case, mainly because:

  • It's very likely that the code won´t be made public.
  • It's even more likely that the dev team will be all "Chilean Spoken Natives" (Mandatory "Chilean Spanish is a different Spanish" reference xd).

But still, deep in my heart, I know that at least de codebase should be in English :(

So I ask you, dear dev community :)

Have you ever had to make this choice?
What reasons drove you to start/change to an all English codebase?
has anyone failed on a similar issue? Why?

Thanks for taking the time to help me with this thing :)

Discussion

pic
Editor guide
Collapse
avalander profile image
Avalander

Well, I don't think there's much to add to what you've already said. I have never been in your position, but if I had to sell the idea, I'd start with the same arguments:

  • Most third-party libraries will not come with a Spanish API, so you might as well have the whole codebase in English for consistency.
  • The future is hard to predict. In five years time you may find that you have a non-Spanish speaking employee that of course needs to understand the codebase, or maybe you need to off-source some development to another country, or even an international company might acquire your company and all of a sudden a bunch of Germans need to be able to read your code. In all cases Spanish isn't the ideal choice.
  • Even though English is not my native language, virtually all programming-related content I consume (books, videos, tutorials, blog posts, etc.) is in English, so programming in English rather than my native language is actually easier for me. I know there's plenty of content in Spanish, but I can imagine many native Spanish speakers are in a similar position.
Collapse
eruizdechavez profile image
Erick Ruiz de Chavez

I've been doing software development since 2005 and at this point in my career is really hard for me to even think about writing code in Spanish (I am from Mexico, but been living in US for almost 10 years now).

My initial reaction would be to say yes, just do it in English; that being said, it also depends on how well your team knows English. Source code in well written Spanish is way better than source code written it a very bad English.

If you and your team are comfortable reading and writing in English, but still want to keep it flexible enough, you could go with a mix of source code in English, and comments in Spanish.

Whatever you choose (English, Spanish, Spanglish), just be consistent on your code. Consistency always wins.

Pro tip: if your code editor/IDE supports it, install/enable spell check, every time I see a typo on the source (or in a comment) I die a little bit.