Is Code an Asset or a Liability?

Joe Eames
Joe Eames
May 1 · 2 min read

I was listening to a podcast about writing quality code recently, and since we just announced the Reliable Web Summit, this topic has been on my mind.

Is code an asset or a liability? I think this is a question that not all developers have pondered, and a fundamental understanding or even just an opinion on this, can radically change your view on writing code.

There’s lots of ways to define assets & liabilities, but we’ll use the following question as a way to judge if something is an asset or a liability. Is having more of it a desirable thing, or an undesirable thing? If it’s desirable, it’s an asset. If it’s undesirable to have more of it, it’s a liability.

Now, is code an asset or a liability?

Simply ask yourself the following question. All things being equal, is it better to have more code or less?

Let’s say you can build a system two different ways, and one way requires 100 lines of code, and the other way requires 1,000 lines. Which way is more desirable?

Let’s look at another way to ask this same question. What kinds of feelings come to you when I suggest working on a system with 1,000 lines of code? Ok, now 10,000 lines? Now 100,000 lines? How about 1,000,000 lines?

Do you feel more and more anxious about it as the size grows? What does that tell you?

True, code enables us to do things. But do we want code for code’s sake? Or do we want to leverage third-party libraries, and frameworks, and remove duplication, etc. So that we write the fewest lines possible?

So what is code? Is it an asset? Or a liability? What do you think?

Ready to build the most reliable web applications possible? Join us for the Reliable Web Summit this August 26th-27th, 2021 to learn how! A summit conference on building reliable web applications, including the following three pillars:

  • Scalable infrastructure and architecture
  • Maintainable Code
  • Automated Testing


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