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2013-07-29 Starting a coding projet

When I was young, I was writing code, running, fixing bugs and going on to something else to code. After I joined my first company, I realized many people were doing that. There were very different styles of coding, spaces anywhere, indentation not following a single rule and always some resistance to follow one set of rules. I started to work in a company with various cultures and styles. People usually write code following the style which is the clearest for them, the easiest to understand for them. I'm usually skeptical when somebody explains everybody should do this or this because it makes more sense. As a teacher, I saw too many different logics, each of them writing in their own style. And if you do different, it is because it is more simple that way for you. For example, I usually choose small variables name for a loop (n, i, t, u) because I read it as a mathematical loop (\sigma_{i=1}^n ...). I add a space before semicolon because you do this in French. One rule I follow is when I modify something written by somebody else: I try to follow the same style. I remember some code review which came back with many comments because my spaces were not good. I think there should be a tool for that.

Anyway, when you work on a big project, I'm not sure about the importance of the style but I know some tools and practice are unavoidables:

If there are specific guidelines to follow, I usually implement them in unit tests: you cannot submit a modification if one fails. I prefer an explicit error message than a document to read explaining how I should code. And every repetitive task should be automated.

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Xavier Dupré