PhpRiot
News Archive
PhpRiot Newsletter
Your Email Address:

More information

Timothy Boronczyk's Blog: Spaghetti Code Considered Harmful

Note: This article was originally published at PHPDeveloper on 21 May 2011.
PHPDeveloper

Timothy Boronczyk has a new post to his blog proposing something that any veteran developer already knows - "spaghetti code" is harmful to the health of your application. He's done a little research, though, and tried to explore what this "bad code" really is.

The phrase "spaghetti code" is an all-too-common pejorative we programmers use to describe horrible code, whether it's difficult to understand, poorly organized, or just plain long-winded. And there-in lays the problem. What really constitutes spaghetti code is subjective; I've yet to hear a concrete definition or standard metric that measures it. [...] Everyone has his or her own opinion as to what aspects would make them label it spaghetti.

Suggested definitions include: quickly written, non-standardized, beginner-level quality and any code that makes use of "goto". He suggests that applying the term to someone's code is less about the real quality of the code and more about social aspects of not wanting to upset the other developer over its quality.

But besides negatively affecting others, our complaining about spaghetti code hurts ourselves too. It's easier to motivate ourselves when tasked with fixing a bug when we're not dreading having to trudge through spaghetti. When we label code as spaghetti code, we are actually creating roadblocks that hamper ourselves and artificially increase the difficulty of the task at hand.