7 Tips on How to Make Your Code Almost Perfect
While every programming language and framework has its own coding requirements, there are common principles that can be applied to make any code perfect – or almost perfect. In this article, we’ve gathered tips based on the most fundamental programming concepts.
Tip 1: Follow TDD, Ensure Effective Debugging, and Deployment
As the saying goes, "Always code as if the guy who’ll maintain your code is a violent psychopath who knows where you live." This approach encourages following generally accepted standards to ensure that any other developer, whether you’ve collaborated or haven’t ever seen each other, can easily understand and maintain your code. Beginning with the very basic programming concepts, here are fundamental code development principles.
Pushing regular builds is a good programming habit. When you work in a big distributed team or contribute to an extended project, sending regular – ideally, daily – builds is not just good practice, but a necessity for efficient teamwork.
Another important stage of code development (or rather, an approach to doing it effectively) is testing. Apart from the need for preliminary planning and regular implementation, test cases should preferably be prepared when actual coding begins. This approach is frequently called test-driven development, or TDD.
Сontinuing the theme of testing, unit and functional tests are the basis for another useful practice: debugging. While checking for errors after completing small-scale projects is common and effective, it may not work as well for complex projects. This is where unit tests and functional tests help significantly, especially when implemented within smaller individual modules.
The final stage of releasing an application is deployment. Among deployment best practices are making sure that everything is updated and that there’s nothing unnecessary in the project, using automation, sticking to a multi-staging strategy, and having a roll-back strategy in place.
Tip 2: Comment Your Code and Follow Conventions
Different programming languages require different coding standards. However, establishing those standards before you actually start developing is essential independent of the technologies you work with. Setting specific standards or conventions is especially crucial for projects that involve several developers. Reading and understanding someone else’s code is much easier when this code follows conventions.
Commenting code helps developers share details on specific programming solutions. Commenting is essential when a team of programmers works on the same modules. It's also a useful practice for iterative development, in which different developers might work on the same function over time or explain the complicated logic. Either way, comments save programmers’ time and effort on sorting through each other’s code.
Another important (though not always followed) convention is naming variables, classes, and other components properly. First, it’s convenient to use meaningful names. Second, it’s crucial to keep the same names throughout the whole project so as not to cause confusion.
As with any other kind of writing, writing code requires following the principle of simplicity. Even if your code includes complicated logic, it’s best to keep it as simple as possible. The same goes for the amount of code. Make sure that another developer who might work with this code or modify it in future can clearly understand your approach.
Tip 3: Use SOLID, KISS, DRY, and other Design Principles
The next set of standards you should follow refer to object-oriented design. While you need to stick to the list of development principles and coding standards, design principles are mostly best practices and are up to you. You might pick one or another concept depending on the project and tasks you’re working on.
We believe SOLID is one of the must-follow practices. The term SOLID refers to five design principles aimed at keeping code maintainable and flexible. These principles are at the core of Agile methodologies and other development approaches.
Another way to organize your code is with package principles. This approach lets you create and manage classes properly. It also helps you understand package cohesion as well as coupling concepts, dependency structure, and metrics.
There are several other design principles that may help you improve your programming significantly.
For instance, the DRY (Don’t Repeat Yourself) principle focuses on eliminating repetitions in programming. KISS (Keep it Short and Simple) encourages you to avoid complexity and do your best to keep code as simple as possible.
The last design principle we should mention is YAGNI (You aren’t gonna need it). YAGNI comes from extreme programming (XP) and focuses on implementing functions only when they’re definitely needed. This approach leads to order and good organization of collaborative work, and includes continuous integration, unit testing, regular refactoring, and other best practices.
Tip 4: Break Refactoring into Small Stages
Based on fundamental development and design principles we can highlight several best practices to follow, and regular refactoring is among them. To ensure efficiency of refactoring, it’s important to stick to several principles.
First, it works best when you split refactoring into separate stages, each of which focuses on as small a code extract as possible. Even if you have to upgrade a pretty large part like a module or component, it’s better to break the refactoring process into several small phases. Breaking up refactoring will not only ensure a great end result, but also will save you significant time, as effective refactoring activities will take you just minutes or even seconds to execute.
Another crucial component to keep in mind is business needs. Business requests define the right time for refactoring and the particular parts of a project that require it. For instance, when it comes to implementing a new feature, you need to check only those parts related to enabling that new feature.
Tip 5: Do Regular Builds with Continuous Integration
We’ve already mentioned the importance of continuous integration, but let’s consider what benefits it provides.
Continuous integration ensures that the project is built several times a day. One of the core rules of continuous integration is never to leave anything unintegrated until another day; before leaving the office, each team member should build his or her project. Thus, continuous integration disciplines programming teams to regularly build the system or project.
Tip 6: Share a Codebase with Other Developers
Sharing a codebase with other programmers is also a pretty common practice, and is greatly assisted by standardized coding conventions, continuous integration, TDD, unit testing, and refactoring.
Using a common codebase in a team or pair programming ensures that knowledge sharing and iteration planning are transparent, deployment easy, design consistent, and code extensible.
Tip 7: Keep the Quality of Your Code High
While you discipline yourself to follow the principles mentioned above, there’s at least one more important component to keep in mind. To make sure you provide perfect (or almost perfect) code, you need to ensure its quality. Let’s briefly consider the most common attributes that will help you measure the quality of code you deliver.
First, a code should be maintainable. Making it flexible and well-structured helps to meet this requirement. Systematically tracking maintainability ensures timely indication of any need to rewrite parts.
The next attributes to check are dependability and efficiency. Dependability ensures sustainable, failure-proof systems that respond to safety needs. Efficiency, in turn, is about optimizing memory and speed and ensuring the effectiveness of data storage and communications.
Another crucial concept to apply to your code is usability, which, however, should not be confused with user experience. Usability refers to the effectiveness and clarity of interactions with an application, website, process, or other kinds of a computer program.
The best practices and generally accepted principles we’ve described in this article provide developers with flexibility and ways to improve their coding skills. In an industry with frequent changes – new features, bugs, shifts in teams, or overall changes in business direction – you should be armed with advanced knowledge and be ready to offer the best programming solutions.
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