RE: Example of quality technical writing: coding style

Subject: RE: Example of quality technical writing: coding style
From: "Andrew Warren" <awarren -at- synaptics -dot- com>
To: "Chris Borokowski" <athloi -at- yahoo -dot- com>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 27 Mar 2007 15:22:54 -0700

Chris Borokowski wrote:

> I was working on a script earlier today when I found
> this article:
> It's on the necessity of writing code so others can
> read it. I've passed it on to some developers here.
> If everyone, myself included, followed these practices,
> code would be much easier to maintain.

How disappointing.

The intro sounded promising -- "My coding style differs significantly
from nearly everyone else's", "Unlike many of the other style-guides out
there, these suggestions are deeply rooted in practice, not just
theory", etc. -- but then the article turned out to be just another list
of preferences for brace placement, whitespace usage, and extra

These are trivial formatting details that can be applied to or removed
from anyone's source code automatically: search the web for "source code
beautifier" to see hundreds of programs that'll do it.

Saying that these superficial formatting details can significantly
improve the maintainability of a program is like saying "If everyone
used the 'Chapter - Page' page-numbering method, and labeled list items
with letters rather than numbers, and set the left mergin to exactly one
inch, and used British English spelling... Technical documents would be
much easier to read and maintain."

If you'd like to REALLY do your developers a favor, there are many
more-thorough treatments of the subject to which you can point them.
For hands-on, practical advice, I like Steve Maguire's "Writing Solid
Code" and Brian Kernighan's "The Elements of Programming Style" and "The
Practice of Programming".

For deep thought on the subject, they might want to look at Donald
Knuth's "Literate Programming" or even just browse .

And... If they really need a style guide, a web search will turn up lots
of detailed, well-thought-out guides with rules that go way beyond
formatting and naming. I work in embedded systems, so I'm partial to
MISRA-C:2004 for C code ( ) and the Joint
Strike Fighter Air Vehicle Coding Standards for C++ ( ).


=== Andrew Warren - awarren -at- synaptics -dot- com
=== Synaptics, Inc - Santa Clara, CA

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Web-based technology, and PDF output.

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