Talk About Quality

Tom Harris

Don’t Start in Reverse

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When I park my (manual-shift) car on a slope, pointing downward, I set the parking brake, and I leave it in reverse as an extra safety measure. Of course that means that when I’m ready to start out again, I have to remember to take it out of gear (as well as releasing the brake), otherwise the car just jumps backwards and stalls.

Today I was reading Joel Spolsky’s “tips for reading other people’s source code”. In spite of the title (Reading Code is Like Reading the Talmud), you don’t have to have studied Talmud to get his point.

You also don’t have to conclude that his point is universally applicable.

Yes, when you have to work with undocumented, unclear code from an unavailable 3rd party, you might have to reverse engineer it to figure out how it does what it does. Or even just what it does.

But when you’re writing the code, especially as part of a team, there’s no reason to write it so that someone else will need to reverse engineer it. Design well, and write clearly, so that you and others will be able to understand it easily and modify it quickly.

Then everyone can move forward without delay.

Written by Tom Harris

November 22, 2006 at 2:22 pm

Posted in Code Review

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