97 Things Every Programmer Should Know

(Chris Devlin) #1

(^32) 97 Things Every Programmer Should Know

A Comment on


Cal Evans

iN MY FiRST PROGRAMMiNG CLASS iN COLLEGE, my teacher handed out
two BASIC coding sheets. On the board, the assignment read, “Write a pro-
gram to input and average 10 bowling scores.” Then the teacher left the room.
How hard could this be? I don’t remember my final solution, but I’m sure it had
a FOR/NEXT loop in it and couldn’t have been more than 15 lines long in total.
Coding sheets—for you kids reading this, yes, we used to write code out long-
hand before actually entering it into a computer—allowed for around 70 lines of
code each. I was very confused as to why the teacher would have given us two
sheets. Since my handwriting has always been atrocious, I used the second one
to recopy my code very neatly, hoping to get a couple of extra points for style.

Much to my surprise, when I received the assignment back at the start of the
next class, I received a barely passing grade. (It was to be an omen to me for the
rest of my time in college.) Scrawled across the top of my neatly copied code
was “No comments?”

It was not enough that the teacher and I both knew what the program was sup-
posed to do. Part of the point of the assignment was to teach me that my code
should explain itself to the next programmer coming behind me. It’s a lesson
I’ve not forgotten.

Free download pdf