Questions tagged [language-agnostic]

This tag is for questions that aren't specific to a programming language or environment.

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245
votes
174answers
22k views

What should every programmer know?

Regardless of programming language(s) or operating system(s) used or the environment they develop for, what should every programmer know? Some background: I'm interested in becoming the best ...
215
votes
21answers
158k views

Are `break` and `continue` bad programming practices?

My boss keeps mentioning nonchalantly that bad programmers use break and continue in loops. I use them all the time because they make sense; let me show you the inspiration: function verify(object) {...
140
votes
18answers
44k views

Is there an excuse for short variable names?

This has become a large frustration with the codebase I'm currently working in; many of our variable names are short and undescriptive. I'm the only developer left on the project, and there isn't ...
138
votes
10answers
24k views

When is it a good idea to force garbage collection?

So I was reading a question about forcing the C# garbage collector to run where almost every single answer is the same: you can do it, but you shouldn't - except for some very rare cases. Sadly, ...
123
votes
11answers
33k views

The modern way to perform error handling…

I've been pondering this problem for a while now and find myself continually finding caveats and contradictions, so I'm hoping someone can produce a conclusion to the following: Favour exceptions over ...
115
votes
14answers
15k views

Why don't we store the syntax tree instead of the source code?

We have a lot of programming languages. Every language is parsed and syntax checked before being translated into code so an abstract syntax tree (AST) is built. We have this abstract syntax tree, why ...
97
votes
53answers
9k views

Harmful temptations in programming

Just curious, what kinds of temptations in programming turned out to be really harmful in your projects? Like when you really feel the urge to do something and you believe it's going to benefit the ...
96
votes
1answer
62k views

Is there really a fundamental difference between callbacks and Promises?

When doing single-threaded asynchronous programming, there are two main techniques that I'm familiar with. The most common one is using callbacks. That means passing to the function that acts ...
91
votes
7answers
12k views

Short circuit evaluation, is it bad practice?

Something that I've known for a while but never considered is that in most languages it is possible to give priority to operators in an if statement based on their order. I often use this as a way to ...
82
votes
6answers
15k views

How does garbage collection work in languages which are natively compiled?

After browsing several answers an Stack Overflow, it is clear that some natively compiled languages have garbage collection. But it is unclear to me how exactly this would work. I understand how ...
82
votes
18answers
9k views

What is the best way to discern an excellent programmer in a job interview?

In the setting of an interview: What is the best way to reliably identify when somebody is an excellent programmer. By this I mean he is one of those that is 10-15 times more efficient / rapid / ...
80
votes
7answers
84k views

What is early and late binding?

I keep hearing about early and late binding, but I do not understand what they are. I found the following explanation which I do not understand: Early binding refers to assignment of values to ...
76
votes
17answers
10k views

How to train yourself to avoid writing “clever” code? [closed]

Do you know that feeling when you just need to show off that new trick with Expressions or generalize three different procedures? This does not have to be on Architecture Astronaut scale and in fact ...
72
votes
10answers
17k views

Is it good practice to replace division with multiplication when possible?

Whenever I need division, for example, condition checking, I would like to refactor the expression of division into multiplication, for example: Original version: if(newValue / oldValue >= ...
71
votes
16answers
5k views

What is the/Is there a right way to tell management that our code sucks?

Our code is bad. It might not have always been considered bad, but it is bad and is only going downhill. I started fresh out of college less than a year ago, and many of the things in our code puzzle ...
69
votes
4answers
74k views

Which algorithms/data structures should I “recognize” and know by name? [closed]

I'd like to consider myself a fairly experienced programmer. I've been programming for over 5 years now. My weak point though is terminology. I'm self-taught, so while I know how to program, I don't ...
64
votes
16answers
22k views

Why Use !boolean_variable Over boolean_variable == false

A comment on this question: Checking if a method returns false: assign result to temporary variable, or put method invocation directly in conditional? says that you should use !boolean instead of ...
55
votes
4answers
30k views

What is language-agnosticism and why is it called that?

When is something language agnostic? Why is it called that?
54
votes
17answers
5k views

How to deal with tautology in comments? [closed]

Sometimes I find myself in situations when the part of code that I am writing is (or seems to be) so self-evident that its name would be basically repeated as a comment: class Example { /// <...
53
votes
4answers
8k views

What should I do to be language-agnostic?

By now I work with asp.net and C#. I have done a decent work in Java as well. I am planning my career in such a way I should be language-agnostic someday. What are the things that I need to learn? ...
49
votes
12answers
5k views

Is there ever a reason to do all an object's work in a constructor?

Let me preface this by saying this is not my code nor my coworkers' code. Years ago when our company was smaller, we had some projects we needed done that we did not have the capacity for, so they ...
48
votes
9answers
57k views

Why is it impossible to produce truly random numbers?

I was trying to solve a hobby problem that required generating a million random numbers. But I quickly realized, it is becoming difficult to make them unique. I picked up Algorithm Design Manual to ...
48
votes
3answers
16k views

What are the advantages of prototype-based OOP over class-based OOP?

When I first started programming Javascript after primarily dealing with OOP in context of class-based languages, I was left confused as to why prototype-based OOP would ever be preferred to class-...
46
votes
15answers
16k views

Is it bad practice to name an unused variable with a single underscore?

Often when the syntax of the language requires me to name a variable that is never used, I'll name it _. In my mind, this reduces clutter and lets me focus on the meaningful variables in the code. I ...
45
votes
8answers
26k views

Is the average number of bugs per loc the same for different programming languages? [closed]

I have been told that the average number of bugs/defects per line of code is "constant" for different programming languages. 10 KLOC of Ruby would have the same number of bugs as 10 KLOC of c++. The ...
45
votes
8answers
15k views

What should be allowed inside getters and setters?

I got into an interesting internet argument about getter and setter methods and encapsulation. Someone said that all they should do is an assignment (setters) or a variable access (getters) to keep ...
43
votes
13answers
10k views

Is it bad interview practice to have candidates write a linked-list implementation? [closed]

Reading this site and SO I've seen many stories of interview questions and answers saying a candidate had to implement a linked list from scratch. Usually this is a "gimme" exercise for programming ...
41
votes
40answers
6k views

Is anything in programming truly evil? [closed]

So, there are a bunch of questions appearing asking is X evil, is Y evil. My view is that there are no language constructs, algorithms or whatever which are evil, just ones which are badly used. ...
40
votes
11answers
3k views

When should the programmer's spoken language be used during development? [duplicate]

I'm an Italian developer, but I have a good understanding of English. Sometimes, when developing an application targeted for an Italian audience, I wonder whether it is correct to use the Italian ...
39
votes
7answers
949 views

Is it a bad sign that I am often redesigning as I develop a project?

When I first started programming, I assumed that I would one day get to the point where I would start a project by sitting down and sketching a UML diagram of all the classes, then pretty much stick ...
37
votes
6answers
6k views

Methodology for documenting existing code base

I work as part of a team on an existing application that has no inline documentation, nor does it have technical documentation. As I've been working on various bug reports on the application, I've ...
36
votes
10answers
5k views

Why do most mainstream languages not support “x < y < z” syntax for 3-way Boolean comparisons?

If I want to compare two numbers (or other well-ordered entities), I would do so with x < y. If I want to compare three of them, the high-school algebra student will suggest trying x < y < z....
35
votes
16answers
8k views

Why use other number bases when programming

My coworkers and I have been bending our minds to figuring out why anyone would go out of their way to program numbers in a base other than base 10. I suggested that perhaps you could optimize longer ...
35
votes
7answers
12k views

Maybe monad vs exceptions

I wonder what are the advantages of Maybe monad over exceptions? It looks like Maybe is just explicit (and rather space-consuming) way of try..catch syntax. update Please note that I'm intentionally ...
34
votes
7answers
4k views

Arguments against error suppression

I've found a piece of code like this in one of our projects: SomeClass QueryServer(string args) { try { return SomeClass.Parse(_server.Query(args)); } ...
33
votes
9answers
13k views

while(true) and loop-breaking - anti-pattern?

Consider the following code: public void doSomething(int input) { while(true) { TransformInSomeWay(input); if(ProcessingComplete(input)) break; DoSomethingElseTo(...
32
votes
10answers
4k views

Reaching Intermediate Programming Status [closed]

I am a software engineer that's had positions programming in VBA (though I dare not consider that 'real' experience, as it was trial and error!), Perl w/ CGI, C#, and ASP.NET. The latter two are post-...
32
votes
6answers
5k views

Updating password hashing without forcing a new password for existing users

You maintain an existing application with an established user base. Over time it is decided that the current password hashing technique is outdated and needs to be upgraded. Furthermore, for UX ...
31
votes
7answers
8k views

What does it mean that “language A is written in language B”?

I often hear the term that language A is written in language B. For example, PHP has been written C, C# is written in C++. Can someone please explain what does that mean and if it is even correct? ...
31
votes
13answers
2k views

Problems (such as maintenance) in development with unpopular language

I'm developing some application with clojure(lisp) alone in my team. It starts as small application. No problem. But as it's having features and extending the area, it's becoming important program. I ...
30
votes
26answers
11k views

Can someone find a job as a programmer without an education? [closed]

Interested in knowing from the more experienced ones if someone can find a job as a programmer without even a highschool degree. Consider the said person to be an average programmer. Would someone ...
30
votes
4answers
5k views

Can you use Pi as a crude random number generator?

I recently saw this question over at math.SE. It got me thinking. Could Pi be used as a crude random number generator? I mean the results are well known(how long has pi been computed to now?) but, Pi ...
29
votes
5answers
8k views

Data input validation - Where? How much? [closed]

Data input validation always was quite an internal struggle to me. On the verge of adding a real security framework and code to our legacy application rewrite project (which so far pretty much keeps ...
28
votes
3answers
7k views

Style for control flow with validation checks

I find myself writing a lot of code like this: int myFunction(Person* person) { int personIsValid = !(person==NULL); if (personIsValid) { // do some stuff; might be lengthy int myresult ...
27
votes
6answers
2k views

Beginner's guide to writing comments?

Is there a definitive guide to writing code comments, aimed at budding developers? Ideally, it would cover when comments should (and should not) be used, and what comments should contain. This answer: ...
27
votes
9answers
10k views

What is the benefit of having the assignment operator return a value?

I'm developing a language which I intend to replace both Javascript and PHP. (I can't see any problem with this. It's not like either of these languages have a large install base.) One of the things ...
27
votes
11answers
3k views

Should a server “be lenient” in what it accepts and “discard faulty input silently”?

I was under the impression that by now everyone agrees this maxim was a mistake. But I recently saw this answer which has a "be lenient" comment upvoted 137 times (as of today). In my opinion, the ...
27
votes
3answers
2k views

Are static classes with static methods considered SOLID?

SOLID includes the Liskov substitution princicple which has the notion that “objects in a program should be replaceable with instances of their subtypes without altering the correctness of that ...
27
votes
2answers
2k views

How different is garbage collection in pure languages?

In a pure language like Haskell, all data is immutable and no existing data structures can be changed in any way. Additionally, many algorithms on immutable data and functional programming patterns ...
26
votes
11answers
2k views

Maintenance wise, is `else while` without intervening braces considered safe?

Is else while without intervening braces considered "safe" maintenance wise? Writing if-else code without braces like below... if (blah) foo(); else bar(); ...carries a risk because the ...

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