Literate Programming: Retrospect and Prospects

November 22, 2009

An article on Lambda the Ultimate about literate programming. I didn’t read all of these papers — only the "Programming on a Team Project" — and have never really done any literate programming myself, but it’s an interesting methodology and I sometimes wish it caught on better.

In my experience, healthy projects either have very little in the way of comments, beyond architectural descriptions, or have lots and lots of comments, sometimes one per each line of code (mature projects tend towards this end). I think XP is probably right to suggest that energy spent commenting is better spent refactoring or improving the codebase.

And yet LP still has a compelling power (at least for me)! My feeling is that there are some applications which benefit a lot from a literate style — namely research papers, data analyses, and tutorials. But for everything else I think it’s probably better relegated to the museum of history.

Comments are closed.