Top coding-style Questions

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According to the documentation, they're pretty much interchangeable. Is there a stylistic reason to use one over the other?

Answered By: Will Harris ( 338)

I like to use double quotes around strings that are used for interpolation or that are natural language messages, and single quotes for small symbol-like strings, but will break the rules if the strings contain quotes, or if I forget. I use triple double quotes for docstrings and raw string literals for regular expressions even if they aren't needed.

For example:

    'English': "There are %(number_of_lights)s lights.",
    'Pirate':  "Arr! Thar be %(number_of_lights)s lights."

def lights_message(language, number_of_lights):
    """Return a language-appropriate string reporting the light count."""
    return LIGHT_MESSAGES[language] % locals()

def is_pirate(message):
    """Return True if the given message sounds piratical."""
    return"(?i)(arr|avast|yohoho)!", message) is not None

Are there good reasons why it's a better practice to have only one return statement in a function?

Or is it okay to return from a function as soon as it is logically correct to do so, meaning there may be many return statements in the function?

Answered By: Matt Hamilton ( 451)

I often have several statements at the start of a method to return for "easy" situations. For example, this:

public void DoStuff(Foo foo)
    if (foo != null)

... can be made more readable (IMHO) like this:

public void DoStuff(Foo foo)
    if (foo == null) return;


So yes, I think it's fine to have multiple "exit points" from a function/method.

I want to toggle a variable between 0 and 1. If it's 0 I want to set it to 1, else if it's 1 I want to set it to 0.

This is such a fundamental operation that I write so often I'd like to investigate the shortest, clearest possible way of doing it. Here's my best so far:

v = (v == 0 ? 1 : 0);

Can you improve on this?

Edit: the question is asking how to write the above statement in the fewest characters while retaining clarity - how is this 'not a real question'? This wasn't intended to be a code-golf exercise, though some interesting answers have come out of people approaching it as golf - it's nice to see golf being used in a constructive and thought-provoking manner.

Answered By: Guffa ( 492)

You can simply use:

v = 1 - v;

This of course assumes that the variable is initialised properly, i.e. that it only has the value 0 or 1.

Another method that is shorter but uses a less common operator:

v ^= 1;


To be clear; I never approached this question as code golf, just to find a short way of doing the task without using any obscuring tricks like side effects of operators.

Does anyone know how to convert tabs to spaces in Notepad++? I found a webpage that suggests it's possible ( but I couldn't find any information about how to do it. I like to be able to do that because some web forms don't respect code with tabs in it.

Answered By: user48821 ( 321)

First set the "replace by spaces" setting in Preferences -> Language Menu/Tab Settings. Next, open the document you wish to replace tabs with Highlight all the text Then select TextFX -> TextFX Edit -> Leading spaces to tabs or tabs to spaces

console.log("double"); vs console.log('single');

I see more and more JavaScript libraries out there using single quotes when handling strings. What are the reasons to use one over the other? I thought they're pretty much interchangeable.

Answered By: Ady ( 188)

I wouldn't say there is a preferred method, you can use either. However If you are using one form of quote in the string, you might want to use the other as the literal.

alert('Say "Hello"');
alert("Say 'Hello'");

The most likely reason is programmer preference / API consistency.


I've tried checking other answers, but I'm still confused--especially after seeing W3schools HTML 5 reference.

I thought HTML 4.01 was supposed to "allow" single-tags to just be <img> and <br>. Then XHTML came along with <img /> and <br /> (where someone said that the space is there for older browsers).

Now I'm wondering how I'm supposed to format my code when practicing HTML 5.


Is it <br>, <br/> or <br />?

Answered By: Brian Campbell ( 206)

Simply <br> is sufficient.

The other forms are there for compatibility with XHTML; to make it possible to write the same code as XHTML, and have it also work as HTML. Some systems that generate HTML may be based on XML generators, and thus not have the ability to output just a bare <br> tag; if you're using such a system, it's fine to use <br/>, it's just not necessary if you don't need to do it.

Very few people actually use XHTML, however. You need to serve your content as application/xhtml+xml for it to be interpreted as XHTML, and that will not work in IE (it will also mean that any small error you make will prevent your page from being displayed, in browsers that do support XHTML). So, most of what looks like XHTML on the web is actually being served, and interpreted, as HTML. See Serving XHTML as text/html Considered Harmful for some more information.

What are some open source programs that use Haskell and can be considered to be good quality modern Haskell? The larger the code base, the better.

I want to learn from their source code. I feel I'm past the point of learning from small code examples, which are often to esoteric and small-world. I want to see how code is structured, how monads interact when you have a lot of things going on (logging, I/O, configuration, etc.).

Answered By: Don Stewart ( 154)

What I recommend.

Read code by people from different grad schools in the 1990s

Read code by the old masters certain people (incomplete list)

Note that people like me, Coutts, Mitchell, O'Sullivan, Lynagh, etc. learned our Haskell style from these guys.

Read some applications


Here's the info according to the official documentation:

There are four different pairs of opening and closing tags which can be used in php. Two of those, <?php ?> and <script language="php"> </script>, are always available. The other two are short tags and ASP style tags, and can be turned on and off from the php.ini configuration file. As such, while some people find short tags and ASP style tags convenient, they are less portable, and generally not recommended.

In my experience most servers do have short tags enabled. Typing


is far more convenient than typing

<?php echo 

The programmers convenience is an important factor, so why are they not recommended?

Answered By: Oli ( 167)

They're not recommended because it's a PITA if you ever have to move your code to a server where it's not supported (and you can't enable it). As you say, lots of shared hosts do support shorttags but "lots" isn't all of them. If you want to share your scripts, it's best to use the full syntax.

I agree that <? and <?= are easier on programmers than <?php and <?php echo but it is possible to do a bulk find-and-replace as long as you use the same form each time (and don't chuck in spaces (eg: <? php or <? =)

I don't buy readability as a reason at all. Most serious developers have the option of syntax highlighting available to them.

As ThiefMaster mentions in the comments, as of PHP 5.4, <?= ... ?> tags are supported everywhere, regardless of shorttags settings. This should mean they're safe to use in portable code but that does mean there's then a dependency on PHP 5.4+. If you want to support pre-5.4 and can't guarantee shorttags, you'll still need to use <?php echo ... ?>.


Java has some very good open source static analysis tools such as FindBugs, Checkstyle and PMD. Those tools are easy to use, very helpful, runs on multiple operating systems and free.

Commercial C++ static analysis products are available from vendors Klocwork, Gimpel and Coverity. Also there is less-known PVS-Studio analyzer. Although having such products are great, the cost is just way too much for students and it is usually rather hard to get trial version.

The alternative is to find open source C++ static analysis tools that will run on multiple platforms (Windows and Unix). By using an open source tool, it could be modified to fit certain needs. Finding the tools has not been easy task.

Below is a short list of C++ static analysis tools that were found or suggested by others.

What are some other portable open source C++ static analysis tools that anyone knows of and can be recommended?

Some related links.

Answered By: Soo Wei Tan ( 42)

CppCheck is open source and cross-platform.

Brian R. Bondy

When I asked this question I got almost always a definite yes you should have coding standards.

What was the strangest coding standard rule that you were ever forced to follow?

And by strangest I mean funniest, or worst, or just plain odd.

In each answer, please mention which language, what your team size was, and which ill effects it caused you and your team.

Answered By: Simon Johnson ( 435)

I hate it when the use of multiple returns is banned.