Good Code is Readable

April 1st, 2015

Code Quality is the Holy Graal of software analysis. And developers seem to agree that good code is readable code. Or at least, this seems to be the overwhelming opinion of several dozen developers interviewed by the people at IntentHQ.

At the beginning, I thought: wonderful! I like readability. It is an beautiful concept and it will be easier to define, and maybe automatically detect, than quality, which is a very abstract concept after all.

But maybe I got too easily excited. It is evident that what’s readable for an expert is not readable for a novice, right? And what’s readable for a novice, is boring for the expert. Although nobody said that boring code was bad. Maybe we’re onto something here…

But I suspect that boring code might not be the full answer, and we will have to work a bit more to define what readable code is. In any case, one thing that I find exciting is that if we switch our discussion from “code quality” to “code readability” we also shift our focus of attention: while the former is about the code, the latter is about the people.

And it is people that matter.