Wednesday 17 February 2010

NOTE: The Missing Semicolon Just Arrived

Systems Seminar Consultants' newsletter (named The Missing Semicolon) is always a good read, so I was pleased to get notification of the Winter 2010 issue last week. Featuring a mixture of topics, this issue seems to focus on writing good documentation (program documentation and system documentation). Please don't view this as a switch-off topic! Read the articles and you'll better understand the benefits that properly targeted and focused documentation offers.

However, I do strongly disagree with the author's rule of adding a comment to every line of code. Programming standards always give rise to a strong degree of discussion, but in my opinion slavishly putting comments onto every line of code doesn't add anything to the reader's knowledge of the code. Indeed, in the example code given, the vast majority of on-the-line comments are stating the obvious. Comments should describe what is not obvious in the code - that typically means describing what blocks of code are doing and/or why a particular approach was taken (and why other approaches were considered but discarded).

The issue also offers a review of The Little SAS Book (by Lora Delwich and Susan Slaughter whom I featured yesterday), and a nice tip regarding the INFILE statement's MISSOVER parameter.

I recommend you hop over to Systems Seminar Consultants' publications page and a) sign-up for a free subscription, and b) take some time to browse through the archive of issues.