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SubjectRe: Coding style - a non-issue
Book     : Code Complete
Author : Steve McConnell
Publisher: Microsoft Press

Nestor :-)

----- Original Message -----
From: "Paul G. Allen" <>
To: "Linux kernel developer's mailing list" <>;
<>; <>
Sent: Friday, November 30, 2001 10:15 AM
Subject: Re: Coding style - a non-issue

> Peter Waltenberg wrote:
> >
> > The problem was solved years ago.
> >
> > "man indent"
> >
> > Someone who cares, come up with an indentrc for the kernel code, and get
> > into Documentation/CodingStyle
> > If the maintainers run all new code through indent with that indentrc
> > before checkin, the problem goes away.
> > The only one who'll incur any pain then is a code submitter who didn't
> > follow the rules. (Exactly the person we want to be in pain ;)).
> >
> > Then we can all get on with doing useful things.
> >
> IMEO, there is but one source as reference for coding style: A book by
> the name of "Code Complete". (Sorry, I can't remember the author and I
> no longer have a copy. Maybe my Brother will chime in here and fill in
> the blanks since he still has his copy.)
> Outside of that, every place I have worked as a programmer, with a team
> of programmers, had a style that was adhered to almost religiously. In
> many cases the style closely followed "Code Complete". In the case of
> the kernel, as Alan and others have mentioned, there IS a Linux kernel
> coding style.
> In 99% of the Linux code I have seen, the style does indeed "suck". Why?
> Consider a new coder coming in for any given task. S/he knows nothing
> about the kernel and needs to get up to speed quickly. S/he starts
> browsing the source - the ONLY definitive explanation of what it does
> and how it works - and finds:
> - Single letter variable names that aren't simple loop counters and
> must ask "What the h*** are these for?"
> - No function/file comment headers explaining what the purpose of the
> function/file is.
> - Very few comments at all, which is not necessarily bad except...
> - The code is not self documenting and without comments it takes an
> hour to figure out what function Foo() does.
> - Opening curly braces at the end of a the first line of a large code
> block making it extremely difficult to find where the code block begins
> or ends.
> - Short variable/function names that someone thinks is descriptive but
> really isn't.
> - Inconsistent coding style from one file to the next.
> - Other problems.
> After all, the kernel must be maintained by a number of people and those
> people will come and go. The only real way to keep bugs at a minimum,
> efficiency at a maximum, and the learning curve for new coders
> acceptable is consistent coding style and code that is easily
> maintained. The things I note above are not a means to that end. Sure,
> maybe Bob, the designer and coder of bobsdriver.o knows the code inside
> and out without need of a single comment or descriptive
> function/variable name, but what happens when Bob can no longer maintain
> it? It's 10,000 lines of code, the kernel is useless without it, it
> broke with kernel 2.6.0, and Joe, the new maintainer of bobsdriver.o, is
> having a hell of a time figuring out what the damn thing does.
> An extreme case? Maybe, but how many times does someone come in to
> development and have to spend more hours than necessary trying to figure
> out how things work (or are supposed to work) instead of actually
> writing useful code?
> --
> Paul G. Allen
> UNIX Admin II ('til Dec. 3)/FlUnKy At LaRgE (forever!)
> Akamai Technologies, Inc.

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