7 reasons why teams should consistently comment code

Adi Singh | September 4, 2023

If you’ve ever come across a chunk of code bereft of comments, you’ve likely felt the disorientation that arises from staring at lines of text and logic that seem to make sense but somehow don’t. As the connective tissue that binds various pieces of code, well-written comments serve as the bridge between developers across time zones, project phases, and even generations of technology.

Read on to find out why commenting code is more important than ever in today’s interconnected hybrid development environment, and why your business should make in-code comments a formal part of your dev cycle.

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Photo by Luca Bravo on Unsplash

TL;DR: Commenting code is essential for the long-term health of your business. Check out Komment.

1. Navigational Aids in a Sea of Code

In organizations with complex codebases and distributed teams, code comments point developers in the right direction and offer insights into why a particular path was chosen. The immediate access to contextual information — directly in the code — eliminates the friction of consulting external sources and increases developer output. There is no need to go fishing through a sea of JIRA tickets, OneDrive documents and Wiki pages; the rationale is right where the action is.

2. Shorten Bug-Fixing Time

When bugs or issues arise in the code, the first step toward resolving them is understanding the intended functionality of the code in question. A well-placed comment can shave hours off of the debugging process, drastically reduce Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and pave the way for enduring fixes that bolster long-term stability of the codebase. When system uptime is critical, these saved hours literally translate into significant cost reductions and greater customer satisfaction.

Media by r/ProgrammerHumor

3. Preserve Organizational Intelligence

When you’re working in a big team, staff turnover is inevitable. Developers come and go, each leaving their imprint on the codebase. Comments serve as a form of intellectual continuity; miniature repositories of organizational knowledge which ensure that — even as key contributors move on — the hard-earned insights gained from their unique problem-solving approaches don’t evaporate.

4. Keeping Code Agile

Over time, almost every codebase undergoes refactoring to improve efficiency, readability, or to incorporate new features. Structured doctrings that clearly explain the code’s operation guide developers in scaling, maintaining and extending the software. Engineers are better equipped to decide what modifications are needed and how to go about implementing them when they fully grok the objectives and constraints of the original code.

5. Enhanced Code Reviews

In-code comments act as quality control checkpoints that lay down the desired outcomes, limitations, and crucial decision points in a piece of software. Well-written comments accelerate reviews and merges of new software into a large codebase by offering succinct explanations of the code’s functionality and rationale. Reviewers can quickly grasp the logic behind the code changes, making it more efficient to spot potential issues, suggest improvements or give that final LGTM.

It’s not a bug! It’s an undocumented feature. — Anonymous

6. Streamlined Auditing

A unified archive of your team’s software documentation — past and present — speeds up the work of auditors looking to verify that a codebase meets necessary regulatory criteria. Compliance officers can promptly trace the project’s evolutionary path, obtaining insights into the progressive measures and adjustments that have been made to ensure adherence to legal standards.

7. Boosting Team Morale

And finally, working on a well-commented codebase significantly boosts developer confidence and morale. It’s much easier to focus and make meaningful contributions when you’re not constantly struggling to decipher the existing code. Code documentation serves as a universal language that facilitates code handover, resulting in higher productivity and better quality of work that benefits the entire project.

Wrapping Up

Code comments are the silent narrators in the background that bring harmony to the chaotic orchestra of distributed coding. They enable fluidity, clarify ambiguity, and preserve the collective knowledge of your team.

For business leaders, investing in well-documented code is an investment in your organization’s future efficiency, productivity, and scalability. You won’t just be retaining the hard-earned wisdom of your current team — you will be paving the way for seamless transitions, agile development, and long-term innovation.

Strive to instill a culture of disciplined code commenting in your team.

In our next post, we’ll explore the reasons behind many codebases lacking comments or suffering from poor-quality documentation. In the meantime, check out Komment, a tool that completely automates the software documentation process on behalf of developers.