Read code more

by alex_gaynor

As software engineers, we overwhelmingly focus on the skill of writing code. This is clear from how we teach new programmers, how we interview software engineers for jobs, how we encourage engineers to improve their craft, and the kinds of talks you find at conferences. The lack of emphasis on developing code reading as a skill does people a disservice. Reading code is a distinct skill and practicing software engineers should work to improve this skill.

Reading code shows up in many different tasks for a software engineer:

Despite the importance of being able to read code well, we don't do nearly enough to value it in our industry. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to improve your own code reading abilities:

Reading code is an important part of the job of a software engineer, but far too few people work on improving at it the way they do at writing code. Hopefully I've convinced you that practicing reading code is a valuable use of your time, and given you some tools to do so.


Hi, I'm Alex. I'm currently at a startup called Alloy. Before that I was a engineer working on Firefox security and before that at the U.S. Digital Service. I'm an avid open source contributor and live in Washington, DC.