Beautiful Code

In Scientology 0-8: The Book Of Basics, L. Ron Hubbard says:

Goodness and Badness, Beautifulness and Ugliness, are alike considerations and have no other basis than opinion.

I’ve heard many programmers talk about “beautiful code.” Of course, it seems to mean something different to everybody! People can definitely have arguments over what is good or beautiful in code.

Now, most people don’t write code and then think, “Aw, that code was terrible, horrible, and ugly.” Most programmers are pretty happy when they complete a project, and tend to admire their own creations. They might have a terrible tangled mass of code, but to them it might be beautiful. For us, though, who have to fix their terrible, tangled mass of code, maybe it’s not so beautiful.

So what can we do about people this like? Obviously, we know that there are better ways to write code and worse ways, and we’ve formed our opinions based on experience or having read some sensible things and agreed with them. We can’t just let people write terrible code and mess things up. So what do we do?

Well, has anybody ever changed your opinion about something? How did they do it? If you read something and thought it was sensible, and came to see why “good” code was “good”, and “bad” code was “bad”, then perhaps that person could read that thing too! Perhaps you could explain to them gently why you hold your opinions, and give them the chance to change theirs. Perhaps you could show them some good evidence, and they’d change their mind.

At the very least, a little communication probably wouldn’t hurt anybody. 🙂

No matter what you choose, once you realize that all that’s happening is you have different opinions, the way is open to do something about it.

By the way, the quote above is part of the “Axioms of Scientology.” In Scientology, “axioms” are:

axioms: Statements of natural laws on the order of those of the physical sciences.

That’s from the glossary of a book called Advanced Procedure and Axioms, by L. Ron Hubbard.

The axioms are numbered, and the axiom above is Axiom 31. The rest of them are all very interesting, and I’d recommend you get a copy of Scientology 0-8: The Book Of Basics, if you want to read the rest of them.