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Re: What is code readability?

by GrandFather (Sage)
on Jan 02, 2007 at 20:40 UTC ( #592640=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??


in reply to What is code readability?

My touchstone for assisting in deciding what is readable in code is "how (sensibly) close to prose is it?". My justification is that what most of us read most, and are therefore best at parsing, is prose. Applying similar criteria for use of white space and "flow" surely has some benefit.

On the other hand a good friend of mine says that code is more like mathematics and that we should eschew (horizontal) white space where ever possible (although we agree on indentation style).

Before I learned Perl K&R indentation was complete anathema to me and I could see no justification for it what so ever. For Perl K&R seems to be a natural fit and that is what I have come to use. Although readability isn't generally a function of the language, some languages impose their own natural style, some even force a style.

In the past when I was more often proof reading other people's code I would fiddle with the formatting - not because that was "the right way", but because it helped me focus on the structure of the code and more easily grok it. For some reason this seemed to upset some authors. I wonder why? ;)

Some of the OP might be better described as a comentary on "maintainability", rather than "readability" (especially the variables/data structure section), although the two are rather tightly coupled.


DWIM is Perl's answer to Gödel

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Re^2: What is code readability?
by derby (Abbot) on Jan 03, 2007 at 13:39 UTC

    My touchstone for assisting in deciding what is readable in code is "how (sensibly) close to prose is it?"

    Yikes! There's probably way more unreadable prose than unreadable code.

    -derby
Re^2: What is code readability?
by blazar (Canon) on Jan 04, 2007 at 21:29 UTC
    On the other hand a good friend of mine says that code is more like mathematics and that we should eschew (horizontal) white space where ever possible (although we agree on indentation style).

    As a mathematically inclined person, I'm of the school of thought that code is often much like Mathematics too. Still I can't understand the alleged implication that "we should eschew (horizontal) white space", which is generally not the case except perhaps in some specialized areas like Universal Algebra or Formal Languages. But otherwise careful trimming of whitespace does play an important role in mathematical typesetting, which in turn is a refined art. (Made much more accessible by Dr. Knuth's work! - To whom we all owe so much!!)

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