How to write good code
From Jonathan Gardner's Tech Wiki
Notes on how to write good code
What is good code?
If you don't know what the goal is, you can't reach it. You need a measuring stick for good code.
- Good code is readable. Someone unfamiliar with the software or even the language will be able to figure it out.
- Good code is concise. It does one thing, and does it well. It is clear about its goals and intents and can be part of a larger ecosystem of software.
- Good code is useful as-is. It can be extended or embedded.
- Good code is stable. As it grows and evolves, it doesn't change substantially.
How to get good code
- Think hard about what the code needs to do. Understand the Unix Philosophy and use it.
- Keep the coupling between this code and other code very, very loose. See Loose Coupling.
- Don't be smart. Try to make the code as simple as possible. If the code can't be simplified, document it furiously.
- Backwards compatibility. Every change you should make should be backwards compatible. If you think about it hard enough, you will always find a way forwards without breaking backwards compatibility.
Bad code smell
- Code changes a lot. (Did we not understand what it needs to do in the first place?)
- Code is brittle, and doesn't work outside of its one or two intended purposes. (Maybe we didn't generalize the problem or we don't understand loose coupling.)
- Code has a lot of different things all together. This is a sign that you are growing an operating system. Don't do that!
- Versioning issues. This is because you didn't think about backwards compatibility.
- Code depends on bad code. The thing about code odors is they permeate all the way to the user.