Samuel Mullen

What could possibly go wrong?

Why It's Okay to Write Crummy Code

There is an inherent need in good developers to write “good” code. We continually look for ways to simplify, enhance, improve, and speed up the code we - or others - have written. We also look back on our older code and shake our head in disgust.

Perhaps it is because of this love of “good” code or perhaps it is because of what we know we can do in more familiar languages, or perhaps, even, it’s because we know what we don’t know, but it seems there is a sort of barrier between learning and using a new technology (by technology I mean a language, framework, methodology, etc.).

Rather than doing, sometimes it’s easier to continue reading and researching. “Just one more section”, “just one more chapter”, “just one more book”. It makes sense, of course, we have to have some sort of foundation upon which to build; and so we read a little bit more.

But the argument that we need to learn just a little more before we begin doing is a hollow argument: we learn far more by doing than by reading. Think back upon when you’ve learned the most: was it when you were in class listening to lectures, or in lab applying what you learned; when you read the chapter, or when you completed the exercises; when you read the API, or tried to implement it?

But the “doing” is difficult, we end up hitting speed bumps and roadblocks, we go in circles in roundabouts, and occasionally we even find ourselves in dark alleyways or hit dead ends, but eventually, if we persevere, we find our way onto the right path. It’s those little success which make all the difference. Finding out what doesn’t work is a learning experience all to itself, but it is the successes, both large and small, which make all the difference. It is the successes which provide us with the energy and motivation to continue on.

With this in mind, go ahead and write crummy code. Write obtuse, ugly, poorly thought out code. Disregard methodologies and best practices, violate principles, ignore everything which hinders you from learning and playing. Fool around and explore, find the speed bumps, the roadblocks, and even the dark alleyways; it’s how you learn and how you eventually succeed.

So to Hell with being ready and writing perfect code; go have fun. If you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong anyway.