Today, reading prose is important to getting the job done in code.
The Prebaked World
How much software has been created in today’s coding environment? A lot! There is a lot of existing art, and we build upon it to do bigger and better things.
We make new, interesting combinations of things. Our job becomes one of integration.
Docs Compliment Code
In a world where we’re trying to get existing products to work well together, docs are important. We can dive in the source code, and sometimes that is needed or preferred. But in large part, much of the code that we used has been consumerized – prepackaged to make it easier for the developer. Docs, written in English, are a highlight feature of this prepackaging.
Having written quite a bit of documentation of late and tested it with developers, I’m surprised how little developers read the docs.
It’s hilarious, but the most common behavior when watching people read docs is that they skip to the islands of code snippets and copy-paste what they glance at quickly.
Beyond code, docs can provide usage guidelines, context around design decisions, warn of pitfalls or warn of pitfalls that don’t easily fit into a code snippet.
Get it Right
So think about slowing down a bit. Read the docs. Doing it right is better than doing it right now.
Read the sentence all the way to the period. You’ll find some good stuff there that will likely help you write better code.