04 juil. 2007

"Just read the comments !"

Ideally, the title of this post would have been You've got a problem in your code? "Just read the comments!". But it was a bit too long for the layout of this blog.

If you work in an international team setup, it's always good to have some way to communicate. And since you are spending most of your time in your favorite IDE, browsing some code to find this small but irritating bug, you probably think that the best way to communicate about the code itself is to put some comments. You are right. But you have to write them in the team language.

Really, I'd love to understand the comments of the code I'm working on - especially when they look like a "I corrected this bug by..." stuff. Unfortunately, some of them are written in a language I haven't checked for a while - for the sake of <i>anonymization</i>, let's say that this language is Navajo. Last time I had a conversation in this language, that was in another incarnation, and I remember only little things about it (I was something like the emperor of all Navajos, I commended to huge armies, I routinely had dinners with the first President of the United States and so on).To be honest, it could be Navajo: there is no way to know for sure...

Navajo has a nice property: it's a spoken language, and was never intended to be written. It has another property: only a handful of people are able to speak and understand Navajo. And yet another nice property: people who don't speak Navajo can't even try to understand a few words that may give them hints about the purpose of the talk. They just feel "outside of the loop".

That's how I feel when I first "read" this comment: // DB‚©‚ç‚̃ŒƒXƒ.... I can recognize a few symbols because I use them from time to time (©, ç, X, ...) but on the overall the meaning of this sentence is just way over my head. And that's unfortunate because

  1. the line right before that states - in English : // TheNameOfTheGuy: Beginning of the Modification.
  2. the line right after that contains a bug

Now, my current tasks are:

  1. go to the US
  2. wander in the wild west
  3. find an Navajo who has some experience with code comments
  4. bribe him so he can translate the comment
  5. give him back his cobra, thanks, that was a nice present but I already have one
  6. go back to Germany
  7. correct the code

All in all, even if the whole process is a bit more expensive than usual, that makes this particular bug correction a lot more fun. I guess.

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