|Pathologically Eclectic Rubbish Lister|
In my own defense, I would like to make it clear that I would never actually use $x as a variable name in a program. That was just for a quickie example. Any good programmer would do as you say with variable/subroutine names, no globals, and good structure. I did not make that sufficiently clear in my post. In no way can commenting, however good, make up for bad code. Good code always comes first, and good comments come second.
However, I still contend that the good comments must, in fact, come. I, too, have been stuck doing a lot of maintenance work, and never have I come across any code so clear that it negates the need for comments. Your assertion that code can stand as its own comment seems unrealistic. Perhaps you just write much, much better code than anyone I've ever encountered :)
Yet in my experience, the code is never sufficient. Just a few days ago, I came across some code which confused me. I even wrote to perlmonks about it. As it turns out, my understanding of the code was flawless, but I still didn't know what it did, because the author had given no indication of why he did it.
I also took the time to peruse your example, and I must say that it seems a far better proof of my point than yours. When you read it, do you suppose that if you were not the author that you would instantly say, "Oh, of course! This code reads text data separated by an arbitrary character!"? No. But by simply reading the abstract which you so thoughtfully included, the reasoning behind the code is immediately revealed. Now, I don't know for sure if that code works as written, but I can guarantee that if I had to test or debug it, it would take at least twice as long to do so without those comments.
Also note that it was those style of comments that were what I was attempting to advocate earlier, as opposed to play-by-play commentary on the mechanics. I also would like to apologize if there was any hostility creeping into my tone. I've simply wasted way too much time shoveling through the crap of otherwise good programmers who proclaimed their code self-explanatory.
Some people drink from the fountain of knowledge, others just gargle.
In reply to Re: Re (tilly) 2 (disagree): Another commenting question,