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Re^3: "Cleverness" from HOP

by BrowserUk (Pope)
on Jun 11, 2009 at 17:21 UTC ( #770707=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??


in reply to Re^2: "Cleverness" from HOP
in thread "Cleverness" from HOP

Trouble is, one man's "significant advantage" is another's "too clever by half".

All too often "clever code" is used as a synonym for "code I do not understand", and if you do not understand the code, then you almost certainly cannot perceive its advantages.

I like simple. A lot. But even agreeing a definition of simple is anything but. For many, 'simple code' means step-wise and verbose--the explicit detailing of all intermediates--missing that concise & implicit code can simplify through the omission of extraneous intermediaries.

to not write clever code just for the sake of clever code.

"for the sake of", is there a more emotive, subjective, allusory phrase in our lexicons?


Examine what is said, not who speaks -- Silence betokens consent -- Love the truth but pardon error.
"Science is about questioning the status quo. Questioning authority".
In the absence of evidence, opinion is indistinguishable from prejudice.

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Re^4: "Cleverness" from HOP
by webfiend (Vicar) on Jun 11, 2009 at 19:36 UTC

    Don't mind me, just a caffeinated ramble.

    I think there's simple, there's efficient and there's idiomatic. Simple code is readable by nearly anyone with a general grasp on programming. Efficient does the task with the most efficient use of whatever resources are important to that task. Idiomatic code takes advantage of language features to clearly express an idea more succinctly. Idiomatic code is probably less readable to an unexperienced Perl dev, but perhaps more readable for the enlightened. Because performance is rarely an issue for the code I write, I usually shoot for simple and/or idiomatic and shuffle the code that must be unclear for the sake of efficiency into the dark corner of some library.

    My guideline is that clever code is none of the above. Okay, really good clever code may be efficient, but it usually isn't. Most of the clever code I've come across is little more than exploring language features. "Did you know you can do X in Perl?" That's great at home, but I restrict my production code to the idioms I'm most familiar with. Yes, my old production code was simplistic to the point of irritation. Yes, some of my new production code would make a Perl novice twitch while still having simplistic spots that might irritate a guru. But I'm fairly confident that today I could go back and fix a bug in any of my production code. The coders who produced that "clever" code I hate probably couldn't. They've moved on to other features or other languages and probably couldn't even remember why that class needed operator overloading which was so sensitive to calling context or why they had to write the half the logic in an evaluated regular expression.

    There's nothing wrong with being clever. It's fun and you learn from it. But I think we use "clever" as a pejorative when it looks like the original dev was just going "look what I can do!"

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