I’ve a heard a couple of pithy little rules about coding recently which I thought were worth sharing.
The first was from Microsoft’s Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie in this interview. He says something along the lines of ‘never start coding unless you have 4 contiguous hours to work on it without being interrupted, otherwise you’re introducing more bugs than you are usable code’. I found this slightly depressing because I never DO have that time anymore (as my work role becomes more strategic and architectural) and yet I’m not prepared to give up coding yet. I think it’s fair to say though that the coding that I do do now is much more of the ‘technology spike’ type, not the everyday grind of production code, and while this allows you to cherry pick stuff you find interesting, I do miss the rigour of writing code which is going to be released into the wild.
The second maxim is one which I really like from a guy called Tom Lazar who I met through work; he said that since debugging code is twice as hard as writing it in the first place, you should only ever write code that is half as clever as you are capable of writing. I love this, (almost) totally agree with it, and wish that more people (particularly inexperienced developers) would also see the wisdom in it.