Appreciation for the importance of readability (was: Choosing Perl/Python for my particular niche)

Cameron Laird claird at
Sun Mar 28 04:32:14 CEST 2004

In article <40657D14.3FBE7E82 at>,
Fred Ma  <fma at> wrote:
		[various stuff about
		freeware, VNC, ...
		that no longer seems
>Python.  I've tried to read my own C++ code after half a
>year, and have gained a new appreciation for the importance
>of readability.  So I'm still fine-tuning my idea of
>adequate commenting.  Since I'm working on my thesis rather
>than commercial code, I don't have large amounts of generic
>C++ library code.  Just a big-ish heap of routines/functions
>for the problem that I'm investigating, as the algorithms
>that I choose to try morph.
>My impression is that you think Python would be more
>appropriate for my situation.  Just wondering if you can
>comment on the merit of having lots of Perl code around.  It
>seems to be prevelant in a digital design tool environment.
>It may not matter all that much to me right now, but it
>would be nice to be on the same wavelength as others if I
>find myself in a team situation.  As I mentioned, there have
Some scientists are very successful with "slash-and-burn"
techniques.  That manifests itself in this area as "con-
science-free" coding:  they write whatever programs get
them the results they're after, and don't care that no
one else can reproduce their results, nor can they them-
selves, six months later.  A LOT of that goes on.

It makes me uncomfortable.  A lesson I've learned over
and over is that computer programs live far longer than
you expect.  It pays to do 'em better at the beginning,
'cause you're likely to live with them quite a while.

I'm not a successful scientist, though; odds are long
against me ever being one.

Being "on the same wavelength" is yet another of the
dualities you face.  It has its advantages.  So does
leadership in establishing new and better ways.  You 
might never know which is the right choice.  Most cer-
tain is that *you* are the one who'll live with the
choices you make.

Cameron Laird <claird at>

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