Artur Śmiarowski’s Guidelines for Writing Readable Code

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Code means communication has become a bit of a mantra for me.

Source code isn’t just the means by which you translate requirements into commands and structures a machine can understand. Source code also communicates your intent as a designer and engineer as to what a particular piece of software is supposed to do. If written in a clear and comprehensible manner code can serve as an authoritative design specification with no or little extra documentation needed.

I would go as far as to say that when writing code you’re starting an asynchronous conversation with those other people who’re going to work on your code in the future, which in all likelihood will include your future self.

As with any kind of communication one should aspire to make it as easily comprehensible, pleasant to read and consistent as possible. Grice’s cooperative principle and the conversational maxims derived thereof usually are only thought of in terms of natural language and spoken conversation but in my opinion they very much apply to a more formal kind of discourse such as the one established by writing and exchanging code as well.

Trying to improve the readability and understandability of your code therefore is an essential part of becoming a better communicator as well as a better developer and designer. In order to help with that developer Artur Śmiarowski describes 23 guidelines for writing readable code.

While some might argue about the details the general principles and ideas are spot on. By following those and making a deliberate effort to make your code more readable you’ll be able to get your ideas across more clearly and become a better developer.

About the author: Bjoern
Independent IT consultant, entrepreneur

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