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C Style: Standards and Guidelines (contents)

CHAPTER 3 : General Principles


CHAPTER 3 : General Principles

3.1 Keywords

3.2 Think of the reader

3.3 Keep it simple

3.4 Be explicit

3.5 Be consistent

3.6 Minimize scope

3.7 There's no one true style

3.8 A standard which isn't used, isn't a standard

3.9 Distinguish between standards and guidelines

3.10 Standards don't guarantee good coding

3.11 Decide on your portability quotient

3.12 Standards are a function of their audience

3.13 Keep project standards

3.14 Use standard libraries

3.15 Utilize available tools

3.16 Summary

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3.2 Think of the reader

A fundamental guiding principle for all elements of style, is simply to think of the reader at all times. When you are writing 'normal' code just as much as when you are adding those clever tweaky bits, think first: "Will the reader easily understand what I mean and what the code is doing?". The immediacy of understanding is important, as any delay can affect the contents of short term memory, causing re-reading and possible error.

Who will this reader be? He may be a clever programmer, able to understand what you mean (rather than what you say!), but he is more likely to be a junior team member, given the work that no-one else wants. He could also be an older programmer, consigned to the maintenance department, where he slogs away finding those last, really obscure bugs in your code. This may well be done under the pressure of a customer (and consequently senior management) breathing down his neck, complaining about corrupted data and unreliable systems.

So think kindly of this poor chap, whoever he may be. He might even be you!


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