Skip to main content

Are Coding Standards Futile?

Unless the visual layout of a program's code affects its execution, there will always be programmers who circumvent the established coding standards. I admit, I've done it myself from time to time. There's no scientific survey that such standards really reduce cognitive friction when reading someone else's code as far as I know, and aesthetic matters are generally subjective. Make the argument for tabs over spaces until you're blue in the face; someone will just come along touting the benefits of spaces.

I warned achieving a consensus on PHP Coding Standards as PSR-1 would be difficult and that the group's efforts would be better spent discussing more "meatier" topics, such as object caching. Two months later, the proposal failed to garner enough votes for a simple majority and has now been split.

And let's not forget the "Beat Up on Crockford" festival over bootstrap and JSMin. His comments were a bit harsh, yes... but then again he only made two comments in the entire (quite lengthy) discussion and ended up immortalized in the (admittedly funny) Dangerous Punctuation.

Novelists don't all write in the same style; noting the formatting in a section of code might give a heads up on who wrote it or insight into the coder's way of thinking. Maybe it's a clue as to who we can go to for help when something doesn't work. Weak arguments, sure. But maybe so is "consistency breeds success" when applied to code formatting.

Most coding standards seem to target only low-hanging fruit anyway: capitalize something this way, place your braces in this manner, space something that way, etc. None of that really matters, does it? Standards that enforce good architectural design, specific interoperability concerns, etc. have more merit. After all, standards should help make things work, not squash creativity. And if Joe Programmer's self-expression manifests itself as 5-space indenting, who am I to judge?


  1. We can say coding standards are less futile, if everyone who write code (that will be read by others) got the same sense of organizing the code they writes and name the variable they use. But in practice that's not the case. I write things in a most convenient way for me, which will be entirely different from someone else. Some peoples may be accessing it from a different platform or IDE. So when I write a code that I'm not sure I'll be the only person reading it, it makes some sense to follow a coding standard.

    In other cases like when I write code that I (and only me) will need to read in future, I should make it easily understandable, clearly formatted and properly named.

    To summarize, coding standards are low hanging fruites when we write code, but is certainly not when I read it. It will be lot more easy to understand someone's code if he wrote it in the same way I should write. My take is, if someone can't code by following a common standard, he should probably consider deleting that after usage :).


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Composing Music with PHP

I’m not an expert on probability theory, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. And even my Music 201 class from years ago has been long forgotten. But if you’ll indulge me for the next 10 minutes, I think you’ll find that even just a little knowledge can yield impressive results if creatively woven together. I’d like to share with you how to teach PHP to compose music. Here’s an example: You’re looking at a melody generated by PHP. It’s not the most memorable, but it’s not unpleasant either. And surprisingly, the code to generate such sequences is rather brief. So what’s going on? The script calculates a probability map of melodic intervals and applies a Markov process to generate a new sequence. In friendlier terms, musical data is analyzed by a script to learn which intervals make up pleasing melodies. It then creates a new composition by selecting pitches based on the possibilities it’s observed. . Standing on ShouldersComposition doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Bach was f…

Creepy JavaScript Tracking

I recently began allergy shots so my new Monday morning routine includes me sitting in a doctor's office for 30 minutes (I must wait after receiving the shots and be checked by a nurse to make sure there was no reaction). With nothing else better to do while I waited last week, I started playing around with some JavaScript. This is what I came up with:
<html> <head> <title>Test</title> <script type="text/javascript"> window.onload = function () { var mX = 0,  mY = 0, sX = 0,  sY = 0, queue = [], interval = 200, recIntv = null, playIntv = null, b = document.body, de = document.documentElement, cursor = document.getElementById("cursor"), record = document.getElementById("record"), play = document.getElementById("play"); window.onmousemove = function (e) { e = e || window.event; if (e.pageX || e.pageY) { …

Geolocation Search

Services that allow users to identify nearby points of interest continue to grow in popularity. I'm sure we're all familiar with social websites that let you search for the profiles of people near a postal code, or mobile applications that use geolocation to identify Thai restaurants within walking distance. It's surprisingly simple to implement such functionality, and in this post I will discuss how to do so.

The first step is to obtain the latitude and longitude coordinates of any locations you want to make searchable. In the restaurant scenario, you'd want the latitude and longitude of each eatery. In the social website scenario, you'd want to obtain a list of postal codes with their centroid latitude and longitude.

In general, postal code-based geolocation is a bad idea; their boundaries rarely form simple polygons, the area they cover vary in size, and are subject to change based on the whims of the postal service. But many times we find ourselves stuck on a c…