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16.2. Coding Guidelines

Programmers inevitably develop their own style for writing code. This is fine so long as the developer works alone. However, when multiple developers each attempt to impose their own style on a project, it will inevitably lead to problems. Code that does not follow one consistent style is much more difficult to read and maintain than uniform code. Thus, if you have more than one developer working on the same project, you should agree on a common style for writing code. Even if you are working alone, it is a good idea to look at common standards so that your style does not become so different that you have problems adapting when you do work with others.

Here are some topics that a style guide should cover, along with suggestions. These suggestions follow the syntax that was used throughout this book, largely based upon the style suggested in the perlstyle manpage:

Don't forget to document other general development and architectural guidelines too, such as those we have discussed earlier in this chapter and throughout the book. However, keep in mind the goal is to be organized, not bureaucratic. You should not be heavy handed about guidelines. It is not possible, nor desirable, to make everyone's code look the same. The goal is simply to allow developers to work with each other's code without difficulty. Also, style decisions should be determined by discussion and consensus, not dictated. Keep it fun.

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