Chapter 13. Writing Less Code

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Knowing when not to code is possibly the most important skill a programmer can learn. Every line of code you write is a line that has to be tested and maintained. By reusing libraries or eliminating features, you can save time and keep your codebase lean and mean.

Key Idea

The most readable code is no code at all.

Don’t Bother Implementing That Feature—You Won’t Need It

When you start a project, it’s natural to get excited and think of all the cool features you’ll want to implement. But programmers tend to overestimate how many features are truly essential to their project. A lot of features go unfinished or unused or just complicate the application.

Programmers also tend to underestimate how much effort it takes to implement a feature. We optimistically estimate how long it will take to implement a crude prototype but forget how much extra time is involved in future maintenance, documentation, and the added “weight” to the codebase.

Question and Break Down Your Requirements

Not all programs need to be fast, 100% correct, and able to handle every possible input. If you really scrutinize your requirements, sometimes you can carve out a simpler problem that requires less code. Let’s look at some examples of this.

Example: A Store Locator

Suppose you were writing a “store locator” for a business. You think your requirements are:

For any given user’s latitude/longitude, ...

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