Advantages Of Reading Other People's Code

Many new developers (and old developers) feel that reading other people's code is boring if not torture.  I suggest that you look at this necessary evil as opportunities to discover treasures.  You can learn new techniques by reviewing other's work.  You can also learn things that you shouldn't do or remind yourself why you don't code a certain way.  Either way you will most likely see code implemented in ways that you wouldn't normally do yourself.

So lets take this discussion beyond just reading the code by eye.  Stepping through the code will help you to learn even more.  You will see things that you didn't notice by just reading.  This is mostly because there are only so many variations that most people (at least normal people) can mentally exercise.

If you want to work on this technique for improving your skill try checking out Scott Hanselman's blog where he posts Weekly Source Code.  There are also a couple of people who post in their blogs challenging readers to figure out what is wrong with their code.  Give it a try.

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posted on Wednesday, January 9, 2008 9:31 PM Print
# re: Advantages Of Reading Other People's Code
1/11/2008 3:05 AM
This is so true. I have always felt the ability to read existing code efficiently and confidently is a necessary skill in any developer worth his salts. I did check out Scott Hanselman's blog and it was great fun. I really must give LISP a go one of these days.

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Tim Murphy

Tim is a Solutions Architect for PSC Group, LLC. He has been an IT consultant since 1999 specializing in Microsoft technologies. Along with running the Chicago Information Technology Architects Group and speaking on Microsoft and architecture topics he was also contributing author on "The Definitive Guide to the Microsoft Enterprise Library".

I review for the O'Reilly Blogger Review Program

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