Thursday, July 9, 2009

My Code or Someone Else's Code?

Most software developers if given the choice of maintaining their own code or someone else's code, will choose their own. That's unfortunate. Editing other people's code is one of the best things that can happen to a developer. It's a great way to see what works and what doesn't.

Especially early in a career it's not always obvious what practices are best. Fixing problems in ten year old code is very revealing. My own coding style has become simple, spartan, structured and well documented. I didn't code that way in school or early in my career. I learned it as result of many, many hours of maintenance coding.

Working in someone else's code base is also good for the code. As I noted in my previous post, hacking in new code can be a very destructive process. When editing my own code it's very tempting to hack new features because I know where all the easy attachment points are.

It's not nearly as easy to hack in someone else's code without risking nasty side-effects. That forces a full re-evaluation of the code and often significant restructuring. The result is that the code ends up containing the best of both developers.


  1. Of course I want to work on my own code. I am not here to learn. I am here to have a good time.

  2. @Maintenance Man : You are now having a good time but another programmer will not when working in your code.