When Good People Write Bad Code

I started reading a book called “When Good People Write Bad Sentences”.  The book contains 12 steps to better writing habits.  Each step is a humorous connection between bad writing skills and a persons Psychology.  I’m only on step 3 and I feel like I am reading a dark comedy about my writing history.


For example, have you received an email that made your adrenaline pump and emotions flare?  If you immediately reply, the results can be unpredictable.  I find the same situation applies in software development.

In a heated meeting of developers someone might say, “no, that idea will never work!”.  In response, someone will code up a class or script to prove an idea.  Emotions can affect your code and what you code. It can be just like writing an angry email.  Luckily, we have some first line defenses in writing and coding.

Spell check and auto formatting are great for the writing community and almost everyone uses them today.  Developers also have tools to prevent bad coding habits using testing frameworks, coding processes, and peer reviews.  Unfortunately, for the developers these are rarely in the form of a large glossy button named “spell check”.

One of my favorite quotes is “Always code as if the person who ends up maintaining your code is a violent psychopath who knows where you live.” Of course, this is a little over the top but it does convey the amount of concentration needed to write quality code.

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