It's Harder to Read Code Than Write It

Aug 27, 2022

It’s why we are tempted to rewrite old code (even when we shouldn't). Or why we are quicker to create a new function rather than modify or reuse an old one. Editing code often takes just as long as it did to initially write it.

When you read code, you’re often reading the finished product - edge cases, error handling, and more that obscure the main idea.

Code doesn’t follow sentence structure and isn’t meant to be read aloud. It reminds of me Latin word morphology (authors can often take license with word order because grammatical structure is encoded in word ending).

This has implications on how we use large language models like GitHub Copilot to autogenerate code. Our ability to write code will even further exceed our ability to read it.