Simon Guindon

Large Scale Distributed Systems

My GitHub

Code documentation quality

October 11, 2017

As I get older I start to value documentation more and more. Maybe it’s because I’m getting involved with larger and more complicated projects than earlier in my career, or maybe I’m just getting older and I don’t hold every possible thing in my head at once like I used to. Either way, I’ve come to really appreciate a well documented code base.

Postgres is a project I like to look at as an example of a really well kept code base. I like that even though Postgres is technically challenging project to understand and that it’s written in C (a difficult to master programming language) it has a really well maintained source repository. It has a few key things I think are great to strive for.

Let’s look at this GIN secondary index implementation in Postgres as an example.

  1. Great directory structure to separate functionality.
  2. Detailed README created in it’s sub-directory to describe how features are designed and how they work.
  3. Detailed comments describing what functions do.
  4. Comments within functions to explain logic of the code.

At my job at Univa I work on the Navops project. Since Navops offers a more advanced scheduling solution for Kubernetes that means I primarily write Go these days. A good source for writing good documentation for Go is following the godoc tooling.

The Postgres documentation quality and code clarity is superb. There’s no reason why we can’t strive for similar quality in any project using any programming language.

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