The Evolution of Coding in the AI Era: A New Perspective on Clean Code

Marc Emmanuel
3 min readJan 16, 2024

In the last decade, as a software developer, you’ve undoubtedly encountered the vital role of design principles and the art of crafting clean, readable code. But in our current tech-driven world, brimming with emerging tools and frameworks, I’ve started to question the enduring relevance of these practices.

As a developer, I’ve witnessed firsthand how the lines between good and great coding are blurring. I’d argue that the importance of clean code, file structuring, and design patterns is diminishing by the day.

The Rise of AI Co-Coders

Take, for instance, the surge in popularity of AI co-coders like GitHub Copilot. These tools have become more than just novelties; they’re reshaping industry standards. We as software engineers are in the late stages of adapting to these tools, learning collectively how to harness their full potential. My own journey with these AI assistants has been eye-opening.

Relying on AI for Coding: A Personal Account

In my day-to-day coding, the dependence on tools like Copilot has grown exponentially. Complex structures, such as try-catch blocks and promise handling, are now effortlessly managed by AI. Jumping into new tools and frameworks is easier than ever. The absence of Copilot, due to connectivity issues or environmental incompatibilities, leaves a noticeable gap. It’s akin to losing a valuable collaborator, highlighting just how integral these tools have become in my day to day workflow.

This reliance extends beyond writing to understanding code. When approaching new codebases, I often lean on Copilot for guidance and explanations. At times, I find myself merging code from various files to one to provide Copilot with the necessary context, and the clarity of the code in these instances isn’t always pristine. I was easily able to make changes in 6–7 year old code with deprecated dependencies I did not even know existed. It’s a stark reminder of how AI tools are reshaping our interactions with code, clean or otherwise.

The Paradigm Shift — the future is ‘ugly’

Reflecting on my teaching experience in web basics — HTML, CSS, JavaScript — I’ve always stressed the importance of indentation and spacing for human readability. However, with AI’s involvement, the future might look drastically different. I envision receiving one complex, ‘uglified’ file, created by AI, and using these tools to decipher, modify, and extend it. The process will involve guiding the AI to format and adapt specific parts of the code, testing and refining as needed, and ultimately maintaining the efficiency of the machine-generated code. I only need to care about the “What” and not anymore on the “How”.

Conclusion: The Changing Value of Clean Code

My experiences lead me to believe that the significance of clean code, file structuring, and design patterns is diminishing in the AI era. While some argue that developers may become redundant in the future, I believe our role is simply evolving. We must embrace and become adept with AI tools like Copilot. This isn’t about replacing our skills but enhancing them, shifting our focus from syntax to problem-solving. As we adapt to this AI revolution, we’re not just plowing fields with horses anymore — we’re learning to pilot advanced machinery in the vast landscape of coding.



Marc Emmanuel

My thoughts and stories on the leadership world and how I experience them in my current leadership role @virtualidentityag (