Thursday, November 08, 2007

Bug Finder

Two of my favorite tools to use in coding are: a code checker and a code beautifier. The first points to sloppy and rushed code. I find sloppy code to be a vital protein for bugs to grow. The second shows me a consistent view of the code. It's amazing how many bugs you can pick out by just running a code beautifier and glancing over the code. I'm always amazed what I find with a code beautifier. What's even more shocking to me is that a lot of developers hate them. Even if the formatting is less than to my liking, I still use it. Why? It catches so many moments of unclarity. It also points to code that should be broken up into smaller bits. If the code beautifier formats my code to be ugly, then I need to refactor. It's a rule of thumb that has served me well.

Of course, I usually run the code beautifier to get a lay of the land on new code and roll back when I'm done. Why? There's nothing more annoying than searching through tons of code changes to find out that the code was only reformatted. Now, if it's my code, I don't check it in until a code beautifier has been ran on it. I find studying my code after running it is just a good habit to get into before check-in. Reading code that's normalized makes it easier to spot patterns of inelegance.

I'll write more about the code checker, also known as Lint in some circles, in another post.

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