Re: [OT?] Coding Style
Steve Underwood (email@example.com)
Tue, 23 Jan 2001 20:28:26 +0800
Larry McVoy wrote:
> On Mon, Jan 22, 2001 at 11:04:50AM -0500, Jonathan Earle wrote:
> > > -----Original Message-----
> > > From: profmakx.fmp [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
> > >
> > > So, every good programmer
> > > should know where to put comments. And it is unnecessary to
> > > put comments to
> > > explain what code does. One should see this as stated in the
> > > CodingStyle doc.
> > > Ok, there are points where a comment is good, but for example
> > > at university
> > > we are to comment on every single line of code ...
> > WRONG!!!
> > Not documenting your code is not a sign of good coding, but rather shows
> > arrogance, laziness and contempt for "those who would dare tamper with your
> > code after you've written it". Document and comment your code thoroughly.
> > Do it as you go along. I was also taught to comment nearly every line - as
> > part of the coding style used by a large, international company I worked for
> > several years ago. It brings the logic of the programmer into focus and
> > makes code maintenance a whole lot easier. It also helps one to remember
> > the logic of your own code when you revisit it a year or more hence.
> Please don't listen to this. The only place you really want comments is
> a) at the top of files, describing the point of the file;
> b) at the top of functions, if the purpose of the function is not obvious;
> c) in line, when the code is not obvious.
> If you are writing code that requires a comment for every line, you are
> writing bad, obscure, unobvious code and no amount of commenting will fix
> The real reason to sparing in your comments is that code and comments are
> not semantically bound to each other: the program doesn't stop working when
> the comment becomes incorrect. It's incredibly frustrating to read a comment,
> believe you understand what is going on, only to find out that the comment
> and the code no longer match.
> Larry McVoy lm at bitmover.com http://www.bitmover.com/lm
It seems the great majority of heavily commented programs I have seen
never commented anything useful. The ooooh so useful the little
/* Beware: The next two lines might seem weird, but they work around
a bug in some revisions of XYZZY. */
were seldom there, but:
a = b + c; /* add a to b, and store it as c */
were there in bundles. During a period of making a liveing out of
sorting out severly screwed up projects I made a little comment
stripper. I found comments so unreliable, and so seldom useful, I was
better off reading the code without the confusion they might cause. I
do, however, try to document the non-obvious through comments in what I
Some people still seem to be living in the age of K&R C, with 6 or 7
character variable names that demand some explanation. Maybe some day
they will awake to the expressive power of long (and well chosen) names.
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