Did I Write That?

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Looking back at something you wrote years ago is weird. The style is familiar but the content is not – quite often to the extent of wondering what mind altering substances might have been affecting your consciousness when you came up with that.

Laziness is your enemy – don’t make the mistake of thinking that your code is going to become someone else’s problem at the end of the project, or when your secondment / contract is over, etc. Old code has a habit of coming back to haunt you… just because the project has an expected life of 2 years doesn’t mean that in 4 years time you won’t suddenly find yourself staring at the botch job you’re making right now and wondering whether there was something psychoactive in the Smarties.

What’s more, you’ll be staring at it because it’s started going horribly wrong, customers are queueing up to litigate and nobody can work the damn thing out. The entire product team right from the salespeople to the board of directors will be calling you every half hour for progress reports, so it sort of helps if you can work out what you were trying to achieve when you wrote it.

Always make sure your code is maintainable. Comments are your friends.

Anyway, that wasn’t the point. I was talking about how odd it is looking at old code. My coding style is a quite unusual – I’m quite declarative and functional. I can pick out code that I’ve written pretty easily. Every now and again though I come across someone else with a similar style. It’s really, really odd looking at code and not knowing whether you wrote it and have forgotten it, or whether it was someone else.