Heron-Centric: Ruminations of a Language Designer What I want to store in my code comments by Christopher Diggins May 28, 2008
The old school approach to comments was to toss them out during the tokenization phase of compiling. Modern IDEs are making comments increasingly relevant to the software development process. So what happens if we push the idea even further?
I have been talking with some developers about what they want in their next generation IDEs (no I'm not working on something like that, and if I told you about it I'd have to erase your brain). The list is pretty straightforward:
Fine grained versioning control at the programming element - let me know who authored or last modified a my function/class, also function level undo
Test-driven development support - show/hide the tests, and let me know whether it has been changed since it was last tested
Requirements binding - what requirement a feature is connected to
Model binding - what component of the model this feature connected to
Bug/work-item tracking - what bugs or work-items are associated with this program element
What is interesting is that everything necessary for implementing these features can be placed within comments, if an IDE is intelligent about showing/hiding/managing the relevant information.
I'd be interested in hearing what features you'd like that could be easily implemented by inserting metadata within comments?
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Christopher Diggins is a software developer and freelance writer. Christopher loves programming, but is eternally frustrated by the shortcomings of modern programming languages. As would any reasonable person in his shoes, he decided to quit his day job to write his own ( www.heron-language.com ). Christopher is the co-author of the C++ Cookbook from O'Reilly. Christopher can be reached through his home page at www.cdiggins.com.