How Many Lines of Code Does it Take? [Infographic]

November 2, 2013 |  by  |  Tech

They say that coding is a language of sorts. A series of text files that ultimately are turned into 1′s and 0′s that make up a localized universe of whatever the coder intends. In this way I like to think about the programs and operating systems that we use everyday as books of sorts, and coders as the authors of these books. I know the book analogy is kind of pushing a bit far from the source, but for me it’s a way to mentally picture how much typing, thought, and information goes into the operating systems of the technology of today.

I’m not a coder myself (so please correct me if I butcher this) but basically a line of code constitutes some sort of variable to be analyzed by a computer calculator. There can also be lines of logistical preferences – action words that give input as to what to do with these variables. Also there can be lines in which to comment on these previous iterations of code – this serves to help the coder remember what the heck all of these lines of code mean. Although I’m not sure if the statistics of this infographic pertain to comment code (most likely not), it is quite astounding just how many lines of code it takes to make some of these technological operations work. Facebook for instance has at least 15 times more code in it than a Large Haydron Collider does (pre debugging). I don’t know about you, but that is kind of frightening and amazing at the same time.


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  • Rodger Dodger

    This is crappy graphic. What are we really supposed to learn from it?

    • mikeh420

      The Healthcare site is so bloated it is larger than many applications and full operating systems combined. That’s why it’ll never work.

      • GenericVoter

        It really depends on how monolithic all that code is. If it’s just the aggregation of well-encapsulated code for a bunch of states and a bunch of insurance companies, it’s approachable.

        • ch3burashka

          Yeah; seems like a lot of code for a single website/service. Would like a better breakdown of what this graphic means.

          • haydesigner

            It is an infographic, which by definition is only a snapshot/overview. If you want a detailed breakdown, you would need… something written.

      • Skrubb

        The only reason is 500million lines of code bloated, is likely because the contractors who wrote the pile were being paid “per-line” of code they wrote.

        • Manny Fal

          Which means either severe corruption or incompetence. Probably both.

      • Manny Fal

        The more lines of code the more $$$$$ from Obama!

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  • Evan Neumann

    Lines of code is a crude measure of system capabilities. Good code (except Javascript) takes fewer lines.

  • Hakro807

    How could the LHC have as much code as Windows Vista? Should not the LHC have a small but very tight code? I would have expected it to consist of the Linux kernel and not much else.

    • Michael Morris

      I hope this is tongue in cheek. Think about what you are saying. You honestly think that the LHC machines would produce all the results scientists need just plugged into a linux box? Like linux has a trackAtom application just waiting?

      • Paul Lewis

        trackAtom is a method in the LargeHadronCollider interface released with Java 8.

      • Hakro807

        Why should it? I assume LHC run with tightly controlled software as well as hardware, meaning less use for redundant code, loads of drivers or things such as a heavy desktop environment, plug-and-play functionality and whatnot. I’m aware that large datasets can be created during experiments, but it can’t be counted as part of the system the same way Vista is.

        When I reed Vista I assume they counted the entire system, kernel, drivers, desktop environment and the rest including a number of different network stacks.

        But hey, I’m just assuming. : )

    • Tardigrade

      They do a lot of analysis of the results, which involves complex math and 3D visualisation, so if they count that code as well the control software for LHC is just a tiny part.

  • haydesigner

    I’m getting a chuckle out of the fact that Word 2013 has more code than Windows XP.

  • Silverbrain

    I never thought about how much a car might contain, somewhat surprised about it too. I cannot imagine the manpower it takes to go digging through 500 million lines of code to figure out what’s wrong.

    • Tardigrade

      I don’t think that figure is even close to true, even if you include the entertainment/navigation console. The engine control etc are typically handled by microcontrollers and such code tends to be quite compact, as what they do is so focused/tailored.

      • Manny Fal

        It does seem ridiculous your average car would have more lines of software code than a F35 jet fighter.

  • Brian Flauto

    Not a fan of this infographic. It doesn’t specify if its optomized compiled code. This isnt a good way to compare products. I may have an xml file with millions of elements which may or mwy not be considered into my line count, thus skewing results. Many languages allow nearly unlimited lines of code to exist on a single line. I know im being facetious, but these examples illustrate my point.

    • Tardigrade

      It hints that it’s source code, not machine code.

      Even so, would you write several statements on the same line even if you could?

      Agreed that data (stored in a database usually) can way surpass the amount of code. That’s typical for multi-user Web apps (e.g. a basic service like Twitter must have several magnitudes more data than code). Also, imported data, like product catalogues etc can of course be much larger than the code using it.

  • Jim Dawkins

    No way in hell the website uses that many lines of code..mess or not. They shouldn’t even include that without specific information. These random charts are not accurate.

  • Tardigrade

    Considering Facebook is a very advanced service (and I mean advanced in terms of complexity and number of conditions, not that it’s getting more and more confusing) should have been maybe 1/100 of that, if we are talking a “choose the best insurance for you” site. I might be missing the point about what the site is actually doing though.

    The 2000 page statute hints at errors been made already during the requirement specification stage.

    In any case, several consulting companies have lined their vaults with lots more cash, so kudos to them.

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  • Tardigrade

    My most complex (own developed) Web app has pretty close to 1 million lines of code (PHP and Javascript mostly, not counting any of the data). Admittedly a lot of that is from open source libraries. My own code is maybe 1/3 of that, which is almost on space shuttle level. Nice to know :).

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  • Try-catch-this

    I actually thought this was going to be good but saw right through it. Thanks for wasting everyone’s time with #Cumulus propaganda!

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  • kevin

    This whole thing is bullshit far from accurate I was hoping it was comparing like say for example it was comparing how many lines of code an identical version of tetris would take in various programming languages that would be 10 times more useful then this which is useless and anticlimactic for that reason

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  • Matt Smith

    They’re counting the comment lines. Who knows how much instruction the goons in D.C. need to make a website! :P

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  • Burak Çal?k

    Facebook? Really? This information is a bullshit. Completely inaccuare.

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