Maintainable Code vs Clever Code

This blog post about Guido Van Rossum (Python inventor) is profound.

But as the company grew, new engineers who joined couldn’t understand the code. Clever code is usually short and cryptic, written by and for the individual who came up with it, but is hard for anyone else to understand—and nearly impossible to maintain. Guido called this “cowboy coding culture”. He recognized its value in our early stages of trying to implement things quickly, but knew it wouldn’t be sustainable over time, so he decided to speak up in his own quiet way.

“When asked, I would give people my opinion that maintainable code is more important than clever code,” he said. “If I encountered clever code that was particularly cryptic, and I had to do some maintenance on it, I would probably rewrite it. So I led by example, and also by talking to other people.”

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