Monday, September 10, 2007


Read All About IT!

You have probably seen the "What am I doing to be a better programmer in the next 6 months" developer meme that has been doing the rounds. Along with the advice "Read more technical books", one of the common themes is that you should read others people's code, and lots of it!

Reading code is a great way to improve your code writing skills. This is something that I believe in, and I have to admit I’m guilty of not reading enough of other developers’ code. Find an open-source project or a developer whose work you respect, and read the code. Look for idioms and patterns, learn from their experience. I believe undergraduate computing courses should offer a course which consists of dissecting and understanding code written by prominent coders.

Scott Hanselman has a great post on the topic here, where he mentions the Coding4Fun developer kit, a great resource for learning from other people’s code.

Jeff Atwood’s post How To Become a Better Programmer by Not Programming is worth a read, if you have not seen it already.

I recently reviewed the book "Beautiful Code" from O'Reilly, a collection of articles, essays and papers from many talented programmers. It provides insights and techniques that would be hard to arrive at if you had to reinvent them yourself. There is also a dedicated web site here:

For a glimpse into the mind of one of Computer Science’s well known contributors, check out the “Edsger W. Dijkstra” archive (mentioned at the Beautiful Code site):


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