"Code" is a four letter word

"Code" is a four letter word

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"Source code"

"Bedroom coder"

"Can someone explain why this code isn't working?"

"He's such a natural, he thinks directly in code"

These are dirty, dirty phrases...

code (kohd) noun
A system used for brevity or secrecy of communication, in which arbitrarily chosen words, letters, or symbols are assigned definite meanings.
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/code

Yet all the best programmers I know strive to make their programs as clear, consistent, elegant, and easily readable as possible.

Ironic that we refer to the fruit of our labors using a term that generally means the exact opposite of how we hope this fruit will turn out!

  • I have never really though of that.

    That is funny!

  • A good coder always blames his tools. ack C++/CLI (despite the fact it gets the job done:-).

  • You might say the same thing about something cryptic to you.  For instance, when some programmers look at assembly, they may think the same thing, yet it is just code as well.  It makes sense because we have trained our brains to understand it, yet to someone who has not, it looks like gibberish on the screen.  Just think about the first time you saw assembly, or C++ or C#... well before you knew how to write software.

    If you look at the definition for brevity "Concise and exact use of words in writing or speech", the above definition for code actually makes perfect sense.  We can leave out the "or secrecy of communication" from the definition because it really doesn't apply.  You are left with "A system used for concise and exact use of words in writing or speech, in which arbitrarily chosen words, letters, or symbols are assigned definite meanings."  We use concise and exact keywords and symbols that are arbitrarily chosen to define meaning.

  • Actually, doesn't the term come from how the compilers understand it rather how humans write it? What I mean is that compilers (usually) tell you that they don't understand the code you have written for them to parse.

  • > You might say the same thing about something cryptic to you.  For instance, when some programmers look at assembly, they may think the same thing, yet it is just code as well.

    I'd call that 'language' rather than 'code'.

    I don't speak Russian, so anything written in Russian makes no sense to me, but that doesn't make it code. It's just a language that I don't happen to speak.

    'code' implies a deliberate encoding (pun intentional!) which sacrifices clarity for the purpose of secrecy or brevity.  Good programming languages, like good use of spoken languages, should be the exact opposite of that!

  • > 'code' implies a deliberate encoding (pun intentional!) which sacrifices clarity for the purpose of secrecy or brevity.

    More like code implies sacrificing inexactness so that the computer can understand it and do what we want with it. Although historically brevity was probably another important aspect(eg before assembly language).

  • > I'd call that 'language' rather than 'code'.

    So, would you not consider those that speak a native language in front of a non-native language speaker to be speaking in code?  Especially if they are speaking in said language to be secret...I call that...speaking in code.

  • > More like code implies sacrificing inexactness so that the computer can understand it

    I can't find any definition of the word "code" that mentions inexectness vs. precision as part of its meaning...

  • > I can't find any definition of the word "code" that mentions inexectness vs. precision as part of its meaning...

    Well dictionaries are not all encompassing. But perhaps in a larger or more specialized dictionary further meanings might be mentioned.

  • > So, would you not consider those that speak a native language in front of a non-native language speaker to be speaking in code?  Especially if they are speaking in said language to be secret.

    It depends on the intent.

    If my Russian friend is speaking to his Russian friend in front of me, for the purpose of sharing information from one Russian speaker to another, then this is not code.  The fact that I do not happen to understand it is irrelevant to the nature of their communication.

    If they say the exact same thing, but for the purpose of sharing information while keeping it a secret from me, then yes, that would make it a form of code.

    When we write computer programs, keeping intent secret is (rarely) our goal.  In fact my goal is almost always the exact opposite: to make my intent as simple and obvious as I possibly can!

    Therefore, what I am writing is not code.

  • LOL! Oh my gosh. This made me laugh so hard. My husband used to come home and sit on the recliner, when suddenly his eyes would glaze over and he would begin...speaking in a foreign language...code!! (You know you've been programming too long when, right?)

    I didn't understand it until I started working on websites and started learning how to speak the language. Now we happily geek out together!

    Thanks for a fun article,

    LillianH

    http://www.yurdigital.com

  • United States Code anyone? No one understands that one though, so I guess it's accurate there.

  • >LOL! Oh my gosh. This made me laugh so hard. My husband used to come home and sit on the recliner, when suddenly his eyes would glaze over and he would begin...speaking in a foreign language...code!! (You know you've been programming too long when, right?)

    Perhaps some sort of exorcism would have been better?

  • Shawn is there comming hardware float point math SMID VECTOR and custrom shaders to windows phone 7 , xbox 360 , windows

    i can not find any info on the mix page and i have seen a lot of sessions

    i saw that in silverlight 5 there is custrom shaders pixel shader 2.0

    hope you can help on clear some words out here

  • Programming is writing in code.  In fact, the higher the level the languages climb and the more human readable they are, the stronger the code is.

    Computers have and may always speak in on/off switches.  It is the only language they know.  Everything a programmer writes gets translated, sometimes several times, until it becomes machine readable on/offs or 1s and 0s.  And the smarter that compilers get, the less direct this translation becomes.

    So, yes, the "code" that you wrote that clearly spells out its intent to fellow programmers would appear to be plain as day.  But, that just assumes one destination of the message.  The coded portion of the message goes to the computer.  And it is probably a complete secret to both the coder and his/her colleagues as to what was actually said.

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