re: I love to document my code. Am I doing it wrong? VIEW POST


First, don't let anyone discourage you: you're doing it right. My company follows the Commenting Showing Intent standard, which literally formalizes the idea of commenting "why" on every logical statement.

Some people would say that this is redundant, but code rarely expresses its own intent. If an obvious intent gets restated in a comment now and then, it's not really much of a loss, since things obvious to us might not be obvious to others. Most of the time, the intent isn't expressed by even the best code.

Yes, it may well mean you have a 1:1 comments-to-logic ratio, but this is actually more useful than some would have you believe. Good commenting will allow the entire program logic to be recreated in any language, using the comments alone! Implementation varies by language, but the intent and logic are generally the same (with some exceptions). In practice, this actually means the cognitive load is less - we're not sitting here trying to imagine what the programmer (or our past selves) meant. We read the comment, skim the code, grok the idea, and move on. It takes less time, not more, to understand 1:1 CSI'd code.

Others complain that "comments fall out of sync with the code," but that's only true if we let it. When incorporated into a review policy (which every 2+ person project should have), discrepancies between CSI comments and the code generally indicate mislogic, which should be fixed!

In practice, we've been using CSI for a few years, with fantastic return on investment: faster code learning times, less bugs, and better reviews.

This is, however, distinct from documentation, as you pointed out. Comments express "why" to the developers, documentation expresses "what" and "how" to the end-users. Anyhow, most API documentation is like teaching someone how to use a toaster by explaining the electrical specifications of the heating element.

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