Stop Being Your Own Worst Enemy With Code

Bert Wagner has advice on making code understandable for future-you:

At the time I wrote it, I probably thought my code was beautiful. An elegant masterpiece. It should have been printed, framed, and hung on a wall of The Programming Hall of Fame. As clever as I thought I may have been a few years ago, I rarely am able to read my old code without some serious time wasted debugging.

This problem plagued me regularly. I tried different techniques to try and make my code easier to understand.

Bert has some good thoughts here, and I’ll add two small bits.  First, there’s a saying that it takes more mental effort to debug code than it takes to write it, so if you’re writing code at the edge of your understanding, effective debugging becomes difficult to impossible.  Second, unless you see a business rule frequently enough to internalize it, your greatest familiarity with the “whys” of the system is right when you are developing.  There is huge value in taking the time to document the rules in an accessible manner; even if you wrote the code, you probably won’t remember that weird edge case at 4 AM six months from now, when you need to remember it the most.

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