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The summer of ’99: Junior-Style / Newbie Programming

March 1st, 2008

Steve Yegge discusses junior-style programming in his post: Portrait of a n00b. After reading Steve’ post I decided to dig up some of my own newbie code – this code is from the summer of ’99.

I got my first real C++ book
Bought it at the local book store
read it ’til my eyes turned red
it was the summer of ’99

I found this code amusing… To keep things short, I included one method, but the entire class implementation is similar – my comments describe almost every facet of what I now regard as relatively simple logic and I’ve completely removed all whitespace.

As Steve puts it:

[I was] making up a temporal narrative in an attempt to carve out a mental picture of the computation for myself. These stories I told myself were a critical part of my mental development as a programmer. I was a child trying to make sense of a big, scary new world. – Steve Yegge: Portrait of a n00b

The code:

 //__Creator:_____________Adam Kahtava
 //__Date:________________June 14, 1999

 //-----Implements the init method defined in the command.h header file
 //-----Keywords and Modifiers are initialized into keyword[], and modifier[1-5].
 //-----(Keywords and modifiers are all separated by semi-colons).
 void command::init(char data[]){
   int j=0;
   int len=strlen(data);
     for(int i=0;i<6;i++){
     //this for loop is run 6 times, 1st for the keyword,
            // and 5 times for the modifiers, and increments i.
     int k=0;
     char temp[20]={""}; //sets temp to "" (the default)
     //goes through "data" copying string into "temp",
     // until delimiter ";", '\0' is encountered or until len >= j 
       temp[k]=data[j]; //copies useful data from "data" to "temp"
       i++; //increments i
       k++; //increments k
     if(i==0){ //is initiated on first "for loop".
       strcpy(keyword,temp); //copies temp to keyword/
     else if(i>0){ //else if "for loop" has been run more than once.
       strcpy(modifier[i-1],temp); //copies temp to modifier[1-5].
     j++; //increments j

Notable difference from then and now:

Back in ’99 I thought everything I wrote was awesome, I thought I was a Code Poet, or a Programming Ninja (with Real Ultimate Power). I thought my descriptive comments were awesome, and probably thought that by removing all whitespace I would be increasing the program’s efficiency. I thought I could learn more by just programming than reading about programming – I recall discarding books and often hacking my way to comprehension. I was clearly disillusioned.

Today I agree with Jeff Atwood that everything I write sucks, I have an obsession with white space, and prefer to thoroughly understand a programming language before verbalizing my proficiency in it. Now I occasionally get complaints that I’m not including enough comments, and I’m still improving and learning. :)

Author: Adam Kahtava Categories: Musings, Programming Languages Tags:
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