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Good Code is Boring

Preslav Rachev
A software engineer, turning writer. Lifetime learner. Solver of people problems. Follow me into building a sustainable online business.
・1 min read

You have seen them many times. Small snippets of code and the question “What would the the following piece of code print” beneath. You might have tried taking a guess, and perhaps, even failed.

Liquid error: internal

I find those kinds of questions utterly pointless. They not only teach you nothing about real-world programming, but might also lead many newcomers to long-term frustration with programming.

All programming languages have baggage - obscure features that made it in the spec but were later deemed as hacks that should be avoided. There is a certain sense of pride that junior programmers feel when they find such hacks and use them to demonstrate problem-solving skills. I am all in favor of encouraging developers to be proactive and think out of the box. Yet, I often try to point out that using questions like the above as a way of judging one's skills is the wrong way to do it. The mere fact that an opportunity for such questions exists in the first place, should make one take a skeptical look at the language itself.

Contrary to what your teacher taught you, real-world programming is all but proving yourself at solving complex riddles. Much of the well-written production code I have seen is pretty trivial and boring-looking like. This makes it easy to follow and maintain years down the road, once its original creator no longer works on it.

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