Note to Self: Scroll to the End of the README

A pep talk and obvious reminder for my future self about READMEs: read them from start to finish.

Eliot, come in, take a seat. Its time to remind you of something you’ve asked me to now and again. Its a little habit that helps you be a better developer.

Sooner or later your progress will be slowed when you add a dependency to a project and only get as far as reading and scrolling to the install steps at the top of the README.

Remember that library you’ve setup dozens of times before, although you sometimes forget that little config change so it plays nice with your workflow?

Well that config change has been documented in the README forever. Your haste and over-confidence every time you set it up without that config has wasted so much time over the years.

And what about that time when you only just avoided introducing a critical vulnerability by actually reading the Security section in the README. The clue is in the name. Read me. Lets not come that close again.

Use the wealth of hard-won lessons already in the README. You don’t need to struggle to learn those lessons. Just read to the end of the thing. This is for any dependency you’re about to add to a project, including ones you’ve used many times before. The README evolves. Over the years reading to the end of the README has given you more time than it took.

Be sensible, save time: read to the end of the README.

That’s all for today. I’m glad we had this chat. Thanks for your time.

Published by Eliot Sykes

I help teams grow their Rails apps and themselves as a Rails consultant and coach for Rails developers.