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Figuring Out How Things Work in an Unfamiliar Codebase

Molly Jameson  (Senior Software Engineer, Spry Fox)

Location: Room 2006, West Hall

Date: Wednesday, March 23

Time: 11:30 am - 12:00 pm

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Core Pass, All Access Online Only Pass - Get your pass now!

Topic: Programming

Format: Session

Viewing Experience: In-Person/Virtual Livestream

Vault Recording: Video

Audience Level: Yes

One of the most valuable skills as a Generalist Programmer is to be able to go into a system or full codebase you've never seen before and start to be productive with little or no direction. A great generalist can be given millions of lines of code and form a high level mental model of what they need to change. This normally isn't a skill that is taught in schools, and instead usually requires a few years of building up "intuition" in the real world.

This talk will explain steps coders new to an engine can go through to figure out how a system works and will enumerate this seemingly automatic and hard to explain process for more senior programmers looking to teach new hires more efficiently.


Attendees will learn techniques to be productive and form a high level mental model of an unfamiliar codebase as fast as possible.

Intended Audience

This presentation is intended for generalist programmers interested in techniques for quickly learning how systems work in a large new codebase with little to no documentation included. An understanding of basic coding assumed.