What is good style?1

Good style in any language consists of code that is:

  • Understandable
  • Reusable
  • Extensible
  • Efficient
  • Easy to develop and debug

It also helps ensure correctness, robustness, and compatibility. Maxims of good style are:

  • Be explicit
  • Be specific
  • Be concise
  • Be consisten
  • Be helpful (anticipate the reader's needs)
  • Be conventional (don't be obscure)
  • Build abstractions at a usable level
  • Allow tools to interact (referential transparency)

Know the context when reading code:

  • Who wrote it and when?
  • What were the business needs?
  • What other factors contributed to the design decisions?

  1. This page was adatped from the Tutorial on Good Lisp Programming Style by Peter Norvig and Kent Pitman.