Hey there 👋 I'm back with another little rant!
The other day I was thinking about what makes good code good. Or better said, the variables that make it good. Good for me that is.
For me the variables of good code are: Planning, Skill, Consistency, Iterations/Refactor, Observing and most importantly Caring. Or PSICCO for short, as I know the industry loves a good acronym. It's not as good as KISS but whatever 🤣
So let's go through them and give a bit more context!
After thinking for a while I've come to the conclusion that one of the most important, or at least the first thing we must do to be able to create good code is to plan.
Days of coding can save you hours of planning...
This sentence is funny because it's not true. Planning can save you hours of coding. Or at least hours of coding shit, it's not ensured you won't, but it can help.
Consistent code is predictable and requires less effort to navigate and understand.
Take this example, your project has a lot of entities and mocks, and tests for those entities. Let's see the difference and then you can interpret it as you like.
We have these entities:
These are the mocks:
Of course, this example is very exaggerated, but you'd be surprised.
You can imagine navigating or trying to deduce how a file's name can be extremely complicated if possible. At least it's not very efficient, as you would need to check how each file is named.
These are the mocks:
Now, being consistent you can easily predict how a mock or test file for a certain entity will be named. If you want to import the mock for a book, just add .mock to the end of the entity file name, and so on.
We, humans, have evolved to learn patterns very well, and being consistent in code is all about following patterns. This of course is very valuable as we can very easily learn them and predict stuff we don't yet know.
Meanwhile, with inconsistent code, we cannot.
As a side story, I recently started working with discourse and its plugin environment. After having a quick look at some plugins and examples I could almost instantly understand the patterns and find all the classes, variables and files I needed just by assuming they would follow the same patterns. They did, and that was incredibly satisfying and made me keep working with it. It does not only help the current developers or contributors but also makes people more comfortable to start contributing and helping out.
Or better known as refactoring is one of the best tools at our disposal to continuously improve our code every single day. I really think it's one very powerful tool and even wrote a post talking just about that. Here it is in case you want to have a read!
In short, by iterating and continuously improving our code, with reason and thought, of course, we can make our code a lot better than it once was. No code is perfect from the start.
Observe how your code is being used, how you use it, what problems it gives you, what it does well, etc... Just observe and analyse it often, this will give you clues on what to work on next, what to improve or what to not touch.
This is of course one of the most important points, without it, no matter what, you will not be able to create great code. In the same way, a pianist will not play extremely complex melodies without the skill and basics. Or an athlete will not be able to be the best at 100m without skill and practice.
Apart from skill, I feel like Caring is the most important aspect for good code.
I think that good code is done by people who care about the code and project they're working on. They take the time to do things well, they are consistent, in the same way that good handmade jewellery or furniture is done by people who care about the product they're making.
Have I missed some important points? And are there any other points/variables you would say are also important for creating great code?