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Does anybody know of a solid source of information regarding the quality/details of a company's codebase? I'm asking as a potential employee of some companies, having been highly dissatisfied by the technology stack of some companies I've worked with in the past.

I considered creating a website like this a while back, but ultimately decided that it was really just a subset of what features a site like Glassdoor could offer. Glassdoor has a great site for company reviews, but seems mostly geared towards salary information and is much more general-purpose than this.

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Wouldn't that be confidential? I don't think you could give a review without referencing specific examples. – Michael K Mar 28 '11 at 15:30
+1: Unfortunately, I don't think you're going to get the answer that you're looking for; but what a great question. – Jim G. Mar 28 '11 at 17:09

3 Answers 3

No, and you aren't going to get information about most proprietary/closed-source commercial codebases. If the company relies on the codebase for anything serious, it will be considered confidential, and anybody leaking it is going to be prosecuted.

You can certainly ask about technologies used during an interview. I always do.

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Pertinent questions about development processes will get you a fair way along understanding what the codebase will be like. Beyond that, you could always ask - it might even work once in a while! – Alison Mar 28 '11 at 17:16

What you are asking for would be precluded by law and intellectual property policies. It would be the same thing as asking for details about a top restaurant's best recipes. In its stead, you can ask about the following more productive topics:

  • What do you use to develop with?
  • If I had a preferred tool you don't currently use, would I be able/how would I get it approved for use?

Basically, you are asking about information that is generically pertinent to your job, but not specific to the details of their source code and proprietary bits. You are also asking about improving how they deliver products, or translated to manager speak: adding value to the company. That will go over much better.

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Well, the OP referenced Glassdoor - I'd not seen that site before, but it certainly seems that the reviews on there are fairly general. Surely it would be possible to discuss the quality of a company's codebase at that level of generality without violating IP laws? – Carson63000 Mar 29 '11 at 2:14

A glimpse of things can sometimes be had during the interview process.

Some companies want to evaluate your skills by giving you a take-home assignment. Return the sentiment--ask one of them. The interview process is a two-way street. As part of your evaluation of the assignment, ask them how it compares to both the code with which you will be expected to be working and their coding standard.

It's not foolproof, but it can give you a better idea where you had none before.

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