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I've been interviewing for a QA position with a software company. I had spoke about an (Android) app I have been making and they asked to see the source code. I told them it's not publicly available (in the sense it's not on Github) as the app contains sensitive information like my address and ssn. They said I can redact/remove it, and I think that should be fine.

My only concern is, is there something I'm not thinking about giving a software company an app that isn't publicly available? I have no reason to assume this but I wouldn't want them to steal my work or ideas. Also in the future I may decide to publicly release the app (probably open source and free).

They asked me to email them the source code, should I use any "legal language" in the email? Should I simply say "please don't share this with anyone?" or what?

The app itself is nothing fancy, it basically helps me to fill out a form I have to keep filling out.

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    If you'd release it open source and free, and it's nothing fancy, what are you scared of losing? – Dukeling Sep 12 '18 at 23:39
  • Can I ask why you put your address and SSN information in the source code? That sounds like a dangerous practice. – Dan Sep 13 '18 at 13:29
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    Related questions: 1 2 3 4 – rath Sep 13 '18 at 15:07
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Remove your PII, add information in the ReadMe to indicate you are the author and that all rights belong to you. I'm sure there are some great examples online.

If you don't feel like this is a conflict of interest for them (like, no red flags about the ethics or morality of the company as a whole or the people who interviewed you specifically), you can see this as a similar exercise to a 'take home test' that all candidates might get where they are expected to submit code based on a specific topic the company provides.

My guess is that they're looking to see if the code is well-written and that you laid out the app in a way that makes logical sense.

  • There is no ReadMe file, and I'm concerned it may come off as paranoid if I make one where the only line is "I'm the owner and you're not" and give it to a potential employer. – Synerna1 Sep 13 '18 at 6:44
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    @Synerna1 that's not paranoid, that's just being sensible. But you can always put in "This software accomplishes [X] goal, it was written by [Y] person and if you have question you can direct them to [Z] location". That's useful to have with your project anway. – Erik Sep 13 '18 at 6:53
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    @Synerna1 Look at various licenses online (e.g. "All Rights Reserved") and perhaps model it after one. In your case you could include a license statement such as "The files in this software package may not be reproduced or redistributed without the express written permission of AUTHOR." Often this kind of notice is placed in a file called LICENSE. I don't think it would be seen as paranoia but just a standard notice. If anything it will probably be seen as extra attention to detail on your part. For selling it as a product, you would also want the license text to be reviewed by a professional. – Brandin Sep 13 '18 at 10:58
  • I'd also suggest making sure copyright notices are in all the files. That's completely unobjectionable, and will establish the work as Synema1's. – David Thornley Sep 14 '18 at 22:48
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The app itself is nothing fancy, it basically helps me to fill out a form I have to keep filling out

and how many millions would they make if they rip you off, change direction and reposition themselves for the enormous form-filling market, leaving themselves wide open for a lawsuit when you prove ownership of the code?

Sorry, that is meant to sound humorous and not offensive, but hopefully will let you see that your fears are unfounded.

They just want to see if your code is modular, well structured, well commented where necessary, has meaningful variable names and that sort of thing.

Give them the code, or - if you are still concerned - just the main file, without the actual class files that do the work. That ought to be enough, but I think that you 100% worried about nothing.

Btw, if you also have unit tests, give them those; if I saw that, or that you had any design documentation, it would really swing it for me & you would have the job.

  • The first paragraph is irrelevant. The same principle stands for a banking app and a to-do app. – rath Sep 13 '18 at 15:10
  • You think there is the same market for form-filling as for banking and to-do?? – Mawg says reinstate Monica Sep 13 '18 at 20:18
  • The principle stands regardless of market demand. – rath Sep 13 '18 at 21:20
  • The principle., certainly, but the odds of the company ripping off his code decrease proportionately with the potential financial gain. I just commented on [this question](softwarerecs.stackexchange.com/questions/52141/…, where someone wants an app to tell whether a photo was taken with a phone’s front or rear camera. A nice little idea, but I can’t see MegaCorp, Inc thinking to trip it off and make millions. – Mawg says reinstate Monica Sep 14 '18 at 6:32
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Sometimes, companies ask for code on a subject of their own and ask you to work on it. After that, an interview is planned in which you can argue arround implementation.

IMO, asking for a new interview (even remotly) where you can show code and explain why you did this or why you did that is way more relevant than just providing your code. You'll then be able to show your work, explaining your choices. This is kind of a code review and will prevent the interviewer to miss details/misjudge your work.

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