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SubjectRe: [RFC] Bug zapper? :)
On Mon, Aug 09, 2004 at 07:09:55PM -0400, John Richard Moser wrote:
...
> Now, we could try another approach at this, below.
>
> /* get_food(char **a)
> * Gets the current food.
> *
> * INPUT:
> * - char **a
> * Pointer to a pointer for the outputted food.
> * OUTPUT:
> * - Return
> * none.
> * - *a
> * Set to a copy of the current food.
> * PROCESS:
> * - Set '*a' to a newly allocated block of memory containing a copy
> * of the current food (global_food)
> * STATE CHANGE:
> * none.
> */
...

There's just more to it than this.

Even in the almost "self explanatory" example you gave, even with your
suggested style of commenting, there are still problems:

Your comments do not describe who's responsible for allocating/freeing
which memory areas the various pointers point at.

Your get_food() function will cause a write at address 0 if malloc()
fails.

So, you have provided some good examples that no particular commenting
style is going to solve the common problems that all larger C software
projects face to some extent (memory management and error handling).

...
> These comment blocks are *MUCH* more verbose.

Agreed :)

> They describe the process
> loosely, but do give enough information to allow understanding without
> questions.

That's where I disagree.

They do provide an illusion of knowledge though (for example, you did
not mention the built-in segfault mechanism, that was a hidden feature).

> The large amount of extra commentary is worth it, IMHO.

Comments are good. Frequent comments are very good - if they are
correct and actually helpful.

I view it this way; if code is not commented, the only explanation is
that the author didn't feel it was worth commenting. Code that is not
worth even a comment, should be removed from whatever project it is in,
to be replaced by something actually worth commenting. (no, I'm not
bashing any particular part of the Linux kernel or anything like that -
this is my personal view for projects that I'm involved in).

However; comments are NOT a substitute for all the other aspects
required for good and reliable code.

Comments are one little part of the larger puzzle. Ignoring their
importance is inexcusable - but they are not the magic silver bullet all
by themselves either.


My 0.02 Euro
(as someone working on another large project that actually needs
to run reliably)

--

/ jakob

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