[Pdx-pm] Skimmable Code

Amy Farrell akf at aracnet.com
Wed Jan 30 22:52:47 PST 2008

Since I spend a good deal of my time maintaining and troubleshooting 
code written by others, I'm definitely interested. How is it that some 
code is so easy to follow and modify, while some is so remarkably 
opaque? And why do I occasionally run across something *I* *wrote* that 
falls into the latter category, even though I know it seemed perfectly 
clear two years ago?

And then there's the stuff that looks simple, but turns out to be simply 

So, yes.

By the way, I think I understand what you mean by skimmable, and I have 
no idea what you mean by "lexical encapsulation." So I googled for it 
and I learned ... that you do indeed like the term. :-)

 - Amy

Michael G Schwern wrote:
> Eric's been bugging me on IRC to come up with a topic to talk about at next 
> month's meeting, otherwise he's threatening to have me talk about Plan 9. 
> There was something I was really excited about discussion last month and I had 
> to go look back in the #pdx.pm logs to remember what it is.  Such is life in 
> my brain.
> For next meeting I would like to talk about "Skimmable Code", which is to say 
> code that you can confidently read and work with just a small part of without 
> having to study the whole.  Why it's important, what the key traits of 
> skimmability are, how you can tell if you have skimmable code and how you can 
> write skimmable code.
> A lot of this gets into "lexical encapsulation" which is a term I like to 
> throw around and assume everyone else understands why it's REALLY IMPORTANT 
> but don't actually know if other folks Get It.
> Interest?  Excited?  Bored?

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