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Testing Programmers


Tim Bryce

Computer/Internet/Software Articles
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Issued on November 2, 2010

You have no doubt heard my criticisms of computer programmers in the past, a lot of which dealt with discipline, organization and accountability issues. Quite often problems begin with the recruiting process whereby companies do not take time to substantiate the programmer’s knowledge. This is what caused me to write “Hiring the Right Programmer” a few years ago. Basically, I contended it was too easy for someone to bamboozle their way through the process. In our case, our company invented a written test to verify applicants possessed the knowledge and skills they claimed to have. They either could successfully answer the questions and give a brief demonstration of their skills or they couldn’t.

This problem is certainly not unique to our company as many have struggled with it over the years, including Jimmy John, founder of CodeEval of Berkeley, California, a company who recently introduced a clever new approach for testing programmers. The purpose of his Internet based service is simple: “CodeEval is a tool used in academia and the recruiting industry to evaluate students/candidates effectively. In academic institutions, CodeEval intends to be an easy-to-use tool where instructors can create programming assignments and auto grade student submissions. For employers, CodeEval provides an effective platform to identify promising candidates from a crowd of applicants by creating challenges and viewing their live coding submissions.”

Whereas the test we devised years ago tested programming knowledge, CodeEval provides a means for programmers to review assignments and demonstrate their coding abilities. Just introduced in April 2010, CodeEval can be used for the following languages: C, C++, Java, PHP, Perl, Python, and Ruby. However, the company contends over time it can be used to test other languages as well.

Using CodeEval, companies and college professors can devise courses and programming assignments. As the programmer completes assignments, his answers can be reviewed and evaluated. CodeEval makes use of the company’s server which means historical data can be accumulated and used for comparative analysis. The more historical data collected, the more valuable this service becomes. A timing component has recently been added to set limits for completing the tests, which is beneficial both in the classroom and in job applications.

Jimmy Johns is quick to point out, CodeEval is still in Beta Test and, as such, is currently available free of charge. This will undoubtedly change as the product gains acceptance. Even though it’s still in development, it is a good first start and enhancements will be forthcoming, such as adding a test to check for cheating.

Even though the product has been available for only a short time, it is already getting good reviews. Frankly, this is something HR Departments and IT shops should definitely check out, as well as college professors. CodeEval is a slick way to substantiate programmer prowess. They can either prove they know what they are doing or they cannot.

For more info:

CodeEval, Inc.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Copyright © 2010 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at

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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2010-11-12 00:48:41 in Computer Articles

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