Stealing is Not Always Bad

Stealing is not always bad when it come to writing code. Matt Mellenweg, founder of WordPress, recently posted an quote he enjoyed from Brent Simmons in an interview with John Gruber:

I’ve always thought of it this way: a good writer reads a lot of books. They see how other writers solve problems. They pay attention to what’s happening now as much as they pay attention to the classics. Good writers are readers first, but eagle-eyed, careful readers.

I think good developers are the same: they look at other apps. They “read” those apps, the problems they have and how they solve them. They notice trends, they notice new solutions, they notice when things work and when they don’t.

I can’t help but agree more. When I first got started programming, my code was more than awful. I used div’s and id’s everywhere. It wasn’t until I started dissecting code from others that I started to refine my work. It’s not like when you see someone else’s code, you immediately copy what they have, that would be silly. Writing code is a process, and simply copying a specific example from someone else would be be incomplete. Instead, I’ve slowly absorbed best practices, or CSS formatting techniques from working/learning with others.

I recently started a subversion of my “Site Skeleton” via Github. It’s going to be interesting to see how the code base will evolve over the years. I find it efficent to continually evaluate your code and trim the fat when necessary. The more your refine your code, the better you will become as a developer.

The more your refine your code, the better you will become as a developer.

What are some practices you have “stolen” from other people? Who are some people you learn from most? What parts of your code do you feel change most often?

posted in: Best Practices
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1 Comment
  1. Shannon Collins

    I definitely think it’s healthy to look to others in your field for inspiration–or even to follow professionals in your line of work and realize what you don’t want to replicate. Like before I go on a shoot, I’ll browse engagement photos on Pinterest and make sure I’m not ripping off people who have photographed similar themes or props (like equestrian or bubbles, etc). Browsing Google Reader and inspirational blogs definitely make me more driven and I feel like I’ve matured as I’ve collected more refined resources, rather just any old wedding blog. I ramble. Anyway, I liked this post, mister.