My Secret Life as a Spaghetti Coder
home | about | contact | privacy statement
Programmers are fond of telling each other that you can be a better programmer by reading other people's code. It's a common bit of advice.

I get the impression most people think you get better by imitating masters. It's a common theme in self improvement. Aspiring writers read great authors. Aspiring musicians listen to great musicians. Artists study artists and coders study coders.

I've certainly espoused that point of view. I'm fond of quoting Ron Jeffries as saying,
My advice is to do it by the book, get good at the practices, then do as you will. Many people want to skip to step three. How do they know?
In fact, I think that's the third time I've done so in almost as many years.

But what if that's not the primary benefit of reading other people's code? I don't mean scanning it - I mean reading it until you understand exactly what it's doing. Is there something else you can get out of it?

I think so. Perhaps it's not the mimicking of a particular style like a monkey that makes us better for reading code. What if it's tracing through an unfamiliar thought process that flexes the brain and makes it think in ways it previously had not?

By reading unfamiliar code and forcing yourself to trace through until you understand it, you end up thinking in ways that were previously foreign to you.

Ergo, reading others' code makes you better regardless of the quality. As long as you don't mimic poor style and practice.

I think that's where the real value in reading code exists. What are your thoughts?

Hey! Why don't you make your life easier and subscribe to the full post or short blurb RSS feed? I'm so confident you'll love my smelly pasta plate wisdom that I'm offering a no-strings-attached, lifetime money back guarantee!

Leave a comment

There are no comments for this entry yet.

Leave a comment

Leave this field empty
Your Name
Email (not displayed, more info?)


Subcribe to this comment thread
Remember my details

Picture of me

.NET (19)
AI/Machine Learning (14)
Answers To 100 Interview Questions (10)
Bioinformatics (2)
Business (1)
C and Cplusplus (6)
cfrails (22)
ColdFusion (78)
Customer Relations (15)
Databases (3)
DRY (18)
DSLs (11)
Future Tech (5)
Games (5)
Groovy/Grails (8)
Hardware (1)
IDEs (9)
Java (38)
JavaScript (4)
Linux (2)
Lisp (1)
Mac OS (4)
Management (15)
MediaServerX (1)
Miscellany (76)
OOAD (37)
Productivity (11)
Programming (168)
Programming Quotables (9)
Rails (31)
Ruby (67)
Save Your Job (58)
scriptaGulous (4)
Software Development Process (23)
TDD (41)
TDDing xorblog (6)
Tools (5)
Web Development (8)
Windows (1)
With (1)
YAGNI (10)

Agile Manifesto & Principles
Principles Of OOD
Ruby on Rails

RSS 2.0: Full Post | Short Blurb
Subscribe by email:

Delivered by FeedBurner