[MUD-Dev] DAoC dev team

Lars Duening lars at bearnip.com
Thu Oct 18 20:41:27 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001

Daniel.Harman at barclayscapital.com wrote on Thursday, October 18 2001, 

> I was going to comment on XP earlier, but deleted my post - oh
> well. With regard to taking over undocumented code, thats not
> *meant* to happen. All coding is supposed to happen in pairs, so
> that there is no such thing as someone elses section of code. The
> team is meant to rotate pair programming desk and partners so that
> everyone knows all the code base.

To put it bluntly: Wishful thinking.

In my dayjob I work on code from people who long left the company. I
don't want to even imagine the number of hours I wasted on
determining important details the previous programmer(s) didn't
bother to document "because it can be read in the code". And while I
can imagine that a game project has smaller problem with such legacy
code, I don't think that games are completely immune from this kind
of problem.

Similar the use of comments. In my opinion, programmers who don't
comment code because "well written code reads like prose" are just
making cheap excuses. For starters, even well written prose is not
automatically understandable, as a look into one of the annotated
editions of one of the masters demonstrates. Second, code is not
always well written, which is further aggravated by the fact that
programmers tend to overvalue the quality of their code. Third, even
in well written code a comment can save tremendous amounts of time:
reading "/* Binary search for the monster data */" takes less time
and effort than reading the 10 lines of the search loop. Lastly,
comments also serve as visual anchors when scrolling through code.

But the 'prose' analogy also has another angle: a lot of written
text reads well not just because it is well written, but also
because it has a good layout. Programmers could learn a lot from
book and poster layouters as far presentation is concerned,
including the judicious use of whitespace and comments for purely
visual means. And like in publishing, there is no single right way
to present the information: one has to chose the presentation
appropriate to the concrete text/source at hand.

...oh, look! A shiny new soapbox, and I stepped on it! How careless
of me...

Lars Duening; lars at bearnip.com
PGP Key: http://www.bearnip.com/lars/pgp-lars.asc

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