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The comments merely repeat the code.
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memoryToInitialize = MemoryAvailable(); // get amount of memory available pointer = GetMemory( memoryToInitialize ); // get a ptr to the available memory ZeroMemory( pointer, memoryToInitialize ); // set memory to 0 ... FreeMemory( pointer ); // free memory allocated
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32. Self-Documenting Code
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A systemic problem with endline comments is that it s hard to write a meaningful comment for one line of code. Most endline comments just repeat the line of code, which hurts more than it helps.
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Avoid endline comments for multiple lines of code If an endline comment is intended to apply to more than one line of code, the formatting doesn t show which lines the comment applies to. Here s an example:
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Visual Basic Example of a Confusing Endline Comment on Multiple Lines of Code
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For rateIdx = 1 to rateCount LookupRegularRate( rateIdx, regularRate ) rate( rateIdx ) = regularRate * discount( rateIdx ) Next ' Compute discounted rates
Even though the content of this particular comment is fine, its placement isn t. You have to read the comment and the code to know whether the comment applies to a specific statement or to the entire loop.
When to Use Endline Comments
Here are three exceptions to the recommendation against using endline comments:
Othe r aspects of endline comments on data declarations are described in Commenting Data Declarations, later in this section.
8 CROSS-REFERENCE
Use endline comments to annotate data declarations Endline comments are useful for annotating data declarations because they don t have the same systemic problems as endline comments on code, provided that you have enough width. With 132 columns, you can usually write a meaningful comment beside each data declaration. Here s an example:
Java Example of Good Endline Comments for Data Declarations
int boundary; String insertVal; int insertPos; // upper index of sorted part of array // data elmt to insert in sorted part of array // position to insert elmt in sorted part of array
Avoid using endline comments for maintenance notes Endline comments are sometimes used for recording modifications to code after its initial development. This kind of comment typically consists of a date and the programmer s initials, or possibly an error-report number. Here s an example:
for i = 1 to maxElmts 1 -- fixed error #A423 10/1/92 (scm)
Adding such a comment can be gratifying after a late-night debugging session on software that s in production, but such comments really have no place in production code. Such comments are handled better by version-control software. Comments should explain why the code works now, not why the code didn t work at some point in the past.
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32. Self-Documenting Code
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Use of endline comments to mark 8 ends of blocks is described 9 further in Commenting 0 Control Structures, later in this section.
7 CROSS-REFERENCE
Use endline comments to mark ends of blocks An endline comment is useful for marking the end of a long block of code the end of a while loop or an if statement, for example. This is described in more detail later in this chapter.
Aside from a couple of special cases, endline comments have conceptual problems and tend to be used for code that s too complicated. They are also difficult to format and maintain. Overall, they re best avoided.
Commenting Paragraphs of Code
Most comments in a well-documented program are one-or two-sentence comments that describe paragraphs of code. Here s an example:
Java Example of a Good Comment for a Paragraph of Code
// swap the roots oldRoot = root[0]; root[0] = root[1]; root[1] = oldRoot;
The comment doesn t repeat the code. It describes the code s intent. Such comments are relatively easy to maintain. Even if you find an error in the way the roots are swapped, for example, the comment won t need to be changed. Comments that aren t written at the level of intent are harder to maintain.
Write comments at the level of the code s intent Describe the purpose of the block of code that follows the comment. Here s an example of a comment that s ineffective because it doesn t operate at the level of intent:
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