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Comment View from on high (Score 1) 31

I used to make firmware that goes into aircraft instruments. The FAA has some guidelines on this.

Unnecessary code is generated machine code, and the rule is that you can have none of it. Source code doesn't matter, if it's ifdef'd out it's the same as commentary.

The theory is that if execution takes an unexpected jump, it can't land in anything that isn't specific to the purpose of the device. Some people take this to extremes, writing new versions of printf() that omit the floating point and pointer output formats when they're not used in the system.

However, if a buffer overflow causes the program to jump, it can't land in the middle of the pointer formatting section and send a pointer to the airspeed computer instead of the decimal altitude.

What the OP is talking about is unnecessary source, which is a different matter.

IBM did studies of bug frequency, and concluded that the number of bugs in a program depends on the number of source lines a programmer can see at any one moment. Big screens allow the programmer to view more lines of code at once, little screens require reading the code through a soda-straw.

Their studies showed that simple code-tightening techniques reduced the number of bugs. Placing the brace on the if-statement, for example, allows one more line to be viewed in the window. Omitting braces altogether for single-statement "if" saves another line. Using 120-char width lines instead of 80 allows fewer wrapped lines, and so on.

There is a competing goal of readability, so tightening can't be taken too far. The complex perl-style or APL-style "everything on a single line" construct goes the opposite direction - too much info and it becomes hard to understand at a glance.

Typical C-like syntax with line-tightening techniques is easy to read, and presents probably an optimal view of code to the engineer.

Braces on their own act like vertical whitespace. Requiring one-and-only-one exit from a subroutine leads to convoluted and chevron code (where the code looks like a big sideways "V" and the hints of indenting is lost). Requiring all definitions at the top of the module requires the reader to flip back-and-forth, and requiring Hungarian notation makes the code look like gobbledy-gook.

Dump it all.

Name your variables clearly, using nouns for objects and verbs for actions. Name your subroutines after their functions. Tighten your code to make it terse, but keep it readable.

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