Someone Used My Software

by Jonathan

As far as I know, no one has ever used my software except the markers in my CS classes and me. That’s because I spend almost all my time coding for assignments or hacking together small utility programs. Larger projects get lost after a week or two; they were either too ambitious or I got lazy. A web crawler I was writing last year got lost in GUI code and my chess engine ended up at the bottom of the heap after the first week of classes this term.

A couple weeks ago I happily wrote some C code after smashing my head against a type-checking assignment for a Lisp-like language. I wrote a program I was sure I would use, something that wasn’t necessarily elegant or unique, but served a purpose. The result was clines, a little command line program that provides data on C/C++ source files. Give it a source file and it reports how many lines are strictly comment lines, code lines or blank (whitespace) lines.

My roommate recently finished a term project in C++ and wondered to himself how many lines of code he had actually written (I think we were discussing comment verbosity). He used my program and suggested another feature that would be nice. I added it. It’s cool to make a simple, working program that’s useful, but it’s rewarding in a unique way when someone else finds your code useful. At the very least, it’s an interesting experience — even if it’s just a line counting program.