Top software coders bad mental habits :-)

New year is time for self-examination; one of the most frustrating things for a coder is writing code with bugs and bugs are almost always directly related to bad mental habits imho. This is not a complete list of any kind, it is a set of well known and widespread ones that you for sure have already encountered in your coder life. I’m writing them down just as a reminder for myself :

  1. The “Let’s do it this way for now (I know this cannot be the final way of doing it), because I don’t want to stop 5 minutes and think about it” attitude. This is the worst of all bad habits in my opinion. It is this attitude that generates the most of production bugs because the only moment you had to focus on that specific issue you decided to skip over it, for the sake of continuity in your mental path (which is a good thing by itself but bad if not derogable ). That moment will never come again, that “preliminary” code will go strait to production and that issue will never ever be taken into account again until it generates a bug.
  2. Using the “quick and dirty” way to do things even when there is no real need for that type of approach. This is related to the fact that we are almost always pushed to deliver fast and after time the “quick and dirty” approach becomes the standard one, always, regardless of requirements.
  3. Unreadable code : this does not necessarily generate bugs but makes it difficult to fix them.It is caused by :
    1. coder EGO : “nobody will ever be able to understand my code unless spending an hour over 10 lines”. I will be the only able to maintain it.
    2. “This way is faster, (probably) ” (note probably, because nobody is ever measuring code speed). Modern compilers/cpus do things that we can’t imagine in terms of optimization, but “I can do better”.
  4. Comment out unused code, or worse, gate it with a feature flag. Code that has no purpose is a major source of distraction and confusion. Today’s version control systems make it easy to revert any changes; there’s no reason not to remove dead code and other bloat.
  5. Over engineering code or overdoing features : this one is so big that needs a separate post to handle it but we might try to summarize it with
    1. more code, more bugs
    2. more code, more tests to make, more time
  6. “I’m gonna do this in 10 minutes” attitude