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One other caveat which I'm not sure has been mentioned ...
It is human nature for developers to love powerful shortcuts -- e.g., one
line of code rather than an entire page. Unfortunately, however, this sort
of programming is usually *MUCH* less intuitive than the lengthier
alternative, and often entails functions/commands with which most
programmers are not familiar.
I think that it was one of Alan Zenreich's books which stressed the KISS
(Keep It Simple, Stupid) rule, and mentioned a professor who graded a
student's code with "Very impressive and imaginative ... -15".
Since few programmers will be familiar with this type of coding (and it
will probably be difficult to find in manuals, etc.), it is imperative that
it be clearly documented in case some poor soul has to modify it at a later
If you're familiar with the programming language, this is comparatively
easy to do. If not, perhaps you could show it to a few
programmers/developers and ask them if they recognize any unique or
unfamiliar techniques. (Most developers *LOVE* the opportunity to look at
other people's code. If any proprietary information is involved, you could
restrict this to company employees, run it past the head honcho, etc.) If
any turn up, you can ask the programmer who wrote the code for a reasonable
description for posterity.
Just remember that the main purpose of source code documentation is to
ensure that the code can be modified, enhanced, and/or corrected at a later
date, at which time the original programmer(s) may be long gone, the
programmer assigned to fix it may not even know the language (alas, this
happens all too often) -- and, if enough time has passed, there may not
even be any available manuals or books on the subject. It is therefore
imperative that unique, esoteric techniques be very clearly described.
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