If you're going to spend several hours each day in front of a keyboard writing code, you should take some pride in all that work. Writing code that gets the job done is only part of a programmer's work. After all, anybody can learn the fundamentals of coding. It takes a true master to code with style.
This chapter explores the question of what makes good code. Along the way, you'll see several approaches to C++ style. As you will discover, simply changing the style of code can make it appear very different. For example, C++ code written by Windows programmers often has its own style, using Windows conventions. It almost looks like a completely different language than C++ code written by Mac OS programmers. Exposure to several different styles will help you avoid that sinking feeling you get opening up a C++ source file that barely resembles the C++ you thought you knew.
Writing code that is stylistically "good" takes time. You could probably whip together a program to parse an XML file into a plain text file in a couple of hours. Writing the same program with functional decomposition, adequate comments, and a clean structure would probably take days. Is it really worth it?
How confident would you be in your code if a new programmer had to work with it a year from now? One of the authors, faced with a growing mess of Web application code, encouraged his team to think about a hypothetical intern who would be starting ...