While working on a small programming puzzle I remembered Peter Norvig’s spell checker and how blown away I was after seeing it for the first. It’s one of my favorite examples of code that’s clean and elegant while being extremely expressive and powerful. If you haven’t seen it yet I encourage you take a look and step through it since he does a much better job of explaining both the code and theory than I ever could.
I don’t want to attribute my improvement as a coder to a single program but this program forced me to think much deeper about the code I write and provided a glimpse of good code. It serves as a goal and pushes me to be more aware of the code I write and whether it’s as simple and expressive as it can be. It’s not easy but approaching development through a lens of self improvement has been instrumental in helping me become a better coder. Good programmers are never happy with the code they wrote a year ago which is a sure sign that they’ve improved over the past year. Dissatisfaction is what drives people to improve and code is no different. It’s rare to find code that’s shocking in its brilliance and I’d love to see more examples so please share.