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Get a Life!

21 May, 2008

Commentary on The Art of Agile Development's Coding Standards practice.

Sometimes it's hard to figure out what to write in these weekly updates. Coding standards--what can I say about coding standards that we didn't already say in the book? Oh, I know. In the immortal words of William Shatner...

Get a Life!

People get really worked up over coding standards. I mean really worked up. But they're actually not that important. The choices are more style than substance. I like exceptions; you like error codes. I like camelCase; you like words_with_underscores. It's programmers' equivalent of the fashion industry: different styles evoke disgust; the thought of having to actually use that style generates outright loathing.

If you're one of those people, it's time to get over yourself. It's good to be consistent, sure. But it doesn't matter which consistent you choose. Just pick one already. And if you're constantly arguing about coding standards, here's a sure-fire way to win the arguments: give in.

That's right--give in. Either you're right, and the other guy's standard will lead to pain and suffering, in which case you'll be vindicated, everybody will agree to follow your coding standard, and you'll get to say "I told you so"...

Or it won't really matter, nothing bad will happen, in which case you've won because people will stop thinking of you as that jerk who always argues about coding standards.

Either way, it's a net positive.