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SubjectRe: [patch 2/2] Documentation/process: Add tip tree handbook

* Ingo Molnar <mingo@kernel.org> wrote:

> With tail comments the code looks like this:
>
> res = dostuff(); /* We explain something here. */
>
> seed = 1; /* Another explanation. */
>
> mod_timer(&our_object->our_timer, jiffies + OUR_INTERVAL); /* We like to talk */
>
> res = check_stuff(our_object); /* We explain something here. */
> if (res)
> return -EINVAL;
>
> interval = nontrivial_calculation(); /* Another explanation. */
>
> mod_timer(&our_object->our_timer, jiffies + interval); /* This doesn't race, because. */
>
> ... while with freestanding comments it's:
>
> /* We explain something here: */
> res = check_stuff(our_object);
> if (res)
> return -EINVAL;
>
> /* Another explanation: */
> interval = nontrivial_calculation();
>
> /* This doesn't race with init_our_stuff(), because: */
> mod_timer(&our_object->our_timer, jiffies + interval);
>
> This comment placement style has several advantages:
>
> - Comments precede actual code - while in tail comments it's exactly
> the wrong way around.
>
> - We don't create over-long lines nor artificially short tail comments
> just because we were trying to stay within the col80 limit with the
> "this doesn't race" comment. The full-line comment was able to
> explain that the race is with init_our_stuff().
>
> - Freestanding oneliner comments are much better aligned as well: note
> how ever comment starts at the exact same column, making it very easy
> to read (or not to read) these comments.
>
> - In short: predictable visual parsing rules and proper semantic
> ordering of information is good, random joining of typographical
> elements just to create marginally more compact source code is bad.
>
> - Just *look* at the tail comments example: it's a visually diffuse,
> jumble of statements and misaligned comments with good structure.

Forgot to mention the role of punctuation:

- Also note how punctuation actually *helps* the integration of
comments and code. The ":" will direct attention to the code that
follows, making it clear that the sentence explains the next
statement. There are exceptions for when different type of
punctuation is a better choice, for example:

/* TODO: convert the code to our newest calc API ASAP. */
interval = nontrivial_calculation();

Here we don't explain the statement but document a TODO entry.

Also, it's frequent practice to use multi-line comments to explain
the next section of code, with a particular note about the first
statement. Proper punctuation helps there too:

/*
* Establish the timeout interval and use it to set up
* the timer of our object. The object is going to be
* freed when the last reference is released.
*
* Note, the initial calculation is non-trivial, because
* our timeout rules have complexity A), B) and C):
*/
interval = nontrivial_calculation();

Note how part of the multi-line comment describes overall
principles of the code to follow, while the last sentence
describes a noteworthy aspect of the next C statement.

Thanks,

Ingo

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