Hell Is Other People’s Code

Some say “Hell is other people.” As software engineers, we say “Hell is other people’s code.” Seriously, we love to hate code we didn’t write. Other people’s code is hard to understand. It doesn’t follow what we think are best practices. It’s full of warts and hacks scattered all over the place.

It’s core to our product and business critical for our customers.

Wait… what?

At this point I’d encourage you to go read this excellent blog post about why the most important part of your software has the ugliest code. If the software you work on has been around long enough to become a useful product for a lot of customers, chances are it was around before you started working on it and it is “other people’s code” to you.

We should keep this in mind next time we want to hate the “other people’s” code we are looking at. Legacy code is usually the way it is for a reason. As software professionals, everybody is much better off if we spend our energy making our inherited code the best that we possibly can instead of spending energy harboring negative feelings.

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