Code And Cocktails

Only One Way of Doing Things...

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When there is only one way of doing things, it is easier to
modify and reuse code. When code is reused, programs are easier
to change and most importantly, shrink. When a program shrinks
its construction and maintenance requires fewer people which
allows for more opportunities for reuse to be found. Consistency
leads to reuse, reuse leads to conciseness, conciseness leads to

Programming as Experience: The Inspiration of Self (1995)


I like the meaning of ‘reuse’ in this quote. This is not the ‘reuse’ promised by early OO proponents. They promised1: that one would be able to create objects which would be reused from one project to another. This is the reuse which means that code is reused in a project. This is the reuse which I believe to be attainable.

It is like a inward-spiral: the more reuse of code the fewer ways to do a thing there will be which leads to only one way.

The sentence about fewer people is a bit odd - but I feel it is does make sense. The fewer people on the team the more likey there will be only one way to do things which means there is by definition more reuse.


Perhaps more important than reuse though is consistency. If code is consistent I have found it to be easier to reason about, because reasonable assumptions can be made when reading it. Being able to make reasonable assumptions, and have those borne out, is very important to me when reading code.

Conciseness and Understanding

And it follows that with reuse and consistency one will get consiceness. But does that necessarily lead to underderstanding? That is something I feel is right, but I have seen some concise code which is hard to understand.


  • “Programming as Experience: The Inspiration of Self”, 1995, Smith, Randall B and Ungar, David

  1. Or perhaps that is not what they said, but what we heard.