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Discussion on: Most effective and simplest way to write readable code.

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skuzzle profile image
Simon Taddiken

Personally, I do not like the kind of method in your improved version. They neither take arguments nor do they produce values. This means they rely on state set by someone else and they produce side effects that others (might) rely on. In the initial version it is easier to reason why things are ordered as they are, because I can see which usage of a variable depends on which write to this variable. However, I do support the extraction of methods to give them a proper name, but with two additions:

  • Make (all of!) the method's dependencies explicit (parameters)
  • Produce as less as possible side effects (produce a single value and return it)

Let's not argue about procedural programming style, where avoiding side effects is not always easy or even possible. But there are a lot of occasions where following these principles leads to code which is easier to understand and to reason about. That is because from a method's call site, I can not only see what it is intended to do (=method name) but also what it needs to do this (=parameters) and what is the result of doing it (=return value).

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Girish Budhwani Author • Edited

I totally agree that side effects cannot be avoided as far as procedural programming is concerned. But I would still prefer the improved version (with or without parameters) because either way there are side effects. Certainly, the code example I used is somewhat trivial (no inter-dependent methods, no return values) and I am sure we can break down our code even in that case. My only concern is that the high level code should be made declarative.

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Scott Hannen

I like it. It indicates that six different steps take place and what they are. Compared to the original version, now you can actually tell what the code does. When you have to modify it, it's much easier to find the part you're looking for. It's also easy to tell if the code in any of those steps affects any of the other steps.
In effect it's like a table of contents for the code. We don't pick up a product manual and read the whole thing to find one detail. We read the table of contents.