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What Software Engineers Don't Get About Clean Code

Back at Instagram, Alex was able to grow very quickly. This was largely due to his coding ability. In his 1st half at Instagram, he pushed ~125 commits to production. In his 2nd half, he pushed ~185 commits to production. In his 3rd half, he pushed ~275 commits to production, making him a Top 5 code committer within his org of 50+ software engineers.

Here are the core points from the video:

  • You don't need to sacrifice quality for velocity - This is one of the biggest misconceptions about code. You can both write a lot of code while keeping the polish high. In fact, high code quality and velocity naturally go hand-in-hand.
  • Messy code is a defining trait of a weak SWE - 99% of bad software engineers have poor code quality, and conversely, you will rarely meet a high-performing software engineer that puts out messy code. Optimizing your code quality is one of the most powerful ways to avoid being a low performer, especially if you work at FAANG or Big Tech in general where the scale and stakes are much higher for code.
  • 80/20 rule applies to code quality - It usually doesn't make sense to cover 100% of edge cases, but you can generally cover ~80% of them with ~20% of the maximum effort, even if you're a tiny startup. Don't make excuses for broken, unreadable code by saying "We have to move fast"; strive to find that 80/20 path.

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