Does Universal Beautiful Code Exist?

A lot of debate is going on about "Beautiful Code". How can you measure the beauty of code? Is it "solid" code? Or perhaps easily readable for humans? An efficient algorithm, or a fast one? Terse sample code that shows a concept, or production code that is robust and fault tolerant? Perhaps a clever solution to a problem, or code that follows coding conventions and guidelines? Or should it be patterns based? What about curly-braces, indentation, comments, letter-casing (NO SHOUTING, IT'S RUDE!) or programming language? Should it exploit all features of the language it was written in, or only use some generic feature-set, libraries or framework commonly found in the language type (imperative, functional, .Net, C-Libraries)? What about cyclomatic complexity and other software metrics?

Most of those "beauty metrics" are purely gut-feeling based and enforcing metrics like a low cyclomatic complexity generally does not improve code beauty (good luck polishing a coal until it's a diamond). In my experience code often mirrors the authors' understanding of the problem and thought-process. No amount of computer assisted code analysis can improve that.

Beautiful code can come in the form of little one-liner gems, or huge elegant architectural diamonds that solve a real-world problem. You will generally find more little gems than big diamonds.

In the end nobody can win: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder!

I cannot put it better than David Hume:

Beauty in things exists merely in the mind which contemplates them.

Code beauty is determined by the observers' frame of reference; programming exposure (languages (C, C++, Java, Visual Basic, F#, Ruby, Lisp), Patterns, Algorithms, Operating Systems, formal training, experience (how many times has the beholder been burned by mistakes?), etc.), native language, organizational position (Junior Programmer vs. Senior Architect vs IT Director, they have different stakes in the code produced) and even aesthetical preferences.

Back to my original question: Does UNIVERSAL beautiful code exist?

Think about that for a minute, I'll wait... What do you think the Greys use as their programming language? Something based on hieroglyphs and flow-charts? What about my Ferengi friend Quark? Quantum languages like QCL or QFC?

Good luck getting consensus on that! :)

So, is there Beautiful Architecture?

No comments:

Post a Comment

My Latest Track