People Are Different

People differ from one another, so much is obvious just by looking at them. But until I had to plough through other people’s coding, I did not realise how much more different people are inside their head.

Presumably that’s why software companies insist on one coding standard, to make sure that one person’s job can easily be picked up by another. As things stand in Port Talbot, there is no such standardisation, with everyone writing the type of code they were most comfortable with. On the one hand this makes it easy to establish your own style and be comfortable with your own writing, and in a way it makes it easier to recognise someone else’s writing from their own idiosyncrasies.

However, if you’re given someone else’s code and you’re asked to modify it or to develop it for your own needs, very often the best way to progress is to figure out what the code is intended to do, and then rewrite it in your own style, otherwise you’ll always be at the mercy of a half understood piece of code.

One of the hardest pieces of writing were Jim Kyle’s ASP code, where variables and functions were given short and far from meaningful names, and trying to follow the logic was tortuous at best and nigh impossible at worst. In one instance I had to go back to the owner of the page and ask how, from first principles, his page was supposed to be populated, and then forget about Jim’s code and write my own effort as if it was a brand new page.

Sometimes even my own early attempts at coding made me cringe when after many years I was attempting to add some functionality. In a way that’s not bad thing, since it shows that my coding skills have improved over time, and secondly by ripping up the original and creating an improved replacement, I had decreased the number of badly coded pages by one.

Still, I’m fairly sure that if I had to go back now, I probably would be lost in my own pages, especially if someone else had to modify them. Mind you, as time goes on, a return becomes less and less likely, and that’s probably all for the good. It means that either the code stands the test of time, or whoever is in charge of the various pieces of code has managed to adapt them fir their own purposes.

Look at how different people are doing their coding, and you realise that people are more different inside their head than they are on the outside.


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