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Issue 3.1


Postmortem: CodeCleaner

Writing an Integrated IDE Extra

Issue: 3.1 (September/October 2004)
Author: Owen Yamauchi
Author Bio: Owen Yamauchi is a freelance programmer who has been programming REALbasic since version F4. He is the Lead Programmer for Domain Softworx, a company that produces developer tools like CodeCleaner for REALbasic.
Article Description: No description available.
Article Length (in bytes): 11,054
Starting Page Number: 11
Article Number: 3108
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Excerpt of article text...

I never learned good code-formatting habits when I started programming. Specifically, I never spaced out my code so that it was more readable. As soon as I discovered the feature, I developed the habit of putting all my DIM statements on a single line. Finding the variable I wanted in a mile-long line of them got tiresome very quickly, but the habits were ingrained in my brain by then. I thought that maybe I could write a program that could space out code for me. That was the origin of CodeCleaner.

CodeCleaner's first incarnation was named CodeSpacer. It was a single window with a big EditField and a button. The button had a load of ugly code behind it, not just because it was not spaced out, but because I had not bothered to plan how it was going to work before I started writing it. The full code of the very first build was as follows:

EditField1.text = ReplaceAll(EditField1.text,"="," = ")

(In the actual program, the first equals sign was not spaced, but it is here, per RB Developer guidelines.) When I ran this code on itself, I was appalled. CodeSpacer had spaced out the equals signs inside the quotation marks. Then I realized something else: when I ran CodeSpacer again, all the equals signs would be doubly spaced out. Clearly I had to re-think what I was doing.

That's when the code started getting ugly. I had another method that would check whether a certain character was inside quotation marks. Each equals sign had to be checked, and for a long code snippet, this got very slow. I had to have two ReplaceAll commands: one that un-spaced doubly spaced equals signs, and another one to space them out. I had to repeat all of that for plus signs, minus signs, "greater than" and "less than" and all the other operators. Then I ran into trouble when the code found "less than or equal to" signs: "<=". Both operators got spaced, so the end result was: " < = ". RB still interpreted it correctly in code, but it was even uglier than before. What I ended up doing to solve that was to replace "<=" with a low-ASCII character before running any of the spacing-out code, then changing it back again at the end.

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