Documenting or not

There are lots of people talking about the importance of writing code documentation. Some, otherwise, advocate in favor of not documenting at all. These usually say your code must tell the history by itself. I’d like to make my own statement in this matter: I agree with both sides in this discussion.

I love to write code documentation. And sometimes, no matter how much I try to make my code be expressive, I need the support from something more textual. I guess that’s due to my code-writing style. I prefer to use a concise naming to my symbols. Instead of `getAllOrdersFromUser(user)`, I’d rather to use `getOrders(user)`. Unless the context requires a meaningful name, the latter is enough expressive. It says what the function does — gets orders — and based on what — a user. For this example, writing what the function actually does is not so important. I can then omit the doc block. In other cases, though, there are some logic details that can be hidden behind a weak name. For those, a statement on what that piece of code does may be essential for understanding.

Yet, for some projects, I struggle keeping docs up-to-date. This happens especially when I’m writing something that must be deployed ASAP. Or when working with pairs that don’t care about documenting. You should know, real life not always allows you to do everything in the way you want to. If I don’t plan to keep my code and documentation in sync, I do not write a comment that won’t say a thing about the code next to it. It’s preferable having no doc than something that will confuse other dev or even myself.

There is a place in the middle of these two points of view where the day-by-day programming resides. Writing expressively is the better way to coding. But, if you’re adding documentation keep in my mind you must update it constantly as your logic changes.

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