Ask The Code

Maybe I'm being unfair. Let's take a look at TODO in action by searching some source code. On a Unix platform the following command should output matches in any files beneath the current working directory:

grep -ERi "TO ?DO|FIX ?ME|HACK|XXX" *

I cannot publish the output of this search on any of the proprietary code I work on. It's confidential information. (The small amount of open source code I have written or contributed to is TODO free.) Nor am I going to publish the output of this search on any of the open source code I use—I do not think it would be fair, since this article questions the use of TODO. I should stress, though, that I'm grateful to have source access, so that any such comments are at least visible to me.

I would be interested to know how useful the output of your search is. Does the TODO list correlate with work-in-progress? Are the FIXMEs actively being fixed? Or have we merely generated a list of half-baked ideas, abandoned experiments and neglected suggestions?

The next section considers some specific use cases which I hope overlap with our search results.

Copyright © 2004-2006 Thomas Guest