Developing code inevitably leads to mistakes. It’s easy to point out duplicates, over-long functions, and poor names in other people’s work, but a little harder when it comes to your own! If you want to have work that excels rather than just passes, though, it’s time to check out where your common mistakes lie. Deadlines, rushes, and other factors can lean heavily on developers and lead to errors.
It’s not just a problem for you, either – your clients want their code without bugs! The user wants a product that works. Even other developers – and you – will find it extremely difficult going to make changes, new features, or updates and maintenance.
Here are four tips to better code, to help you keep an eye on those mistakes and produce clean, optimized code!
- Don’t underestimate the importance of readability.
- Points to remember
- You are likely to be one of many people dealing with the same code – everyone needs to be able to understand.
- Even solo projects need clarity. You might step away for a day, and you don’t want to forget everything when you get back!
- Readability helps with an understanding of your own code, which helps with your maintenance and support.
- How to improve your readability
- Use meaningful names for everything. You want to be able to tell what every function and variable does at a glance, and also avoid ambiguity.
- Use shorter functions. This improves readability and is easy to remember if you just assign one thing to each function!
- Look on forums, ask colleagues, and generally seek out other tips and tricks for cleaner, more readable code.
- Remember, readability is paramount. You’ll spend more time reading your code than you will be writing it.
- Remember the importance of code commentary
- Points to remember and how to use
- Readable code isn’t always understandable by everyone – misinterpretation is possible!
- Names, one-line functions, and other things can be misleading
- Comments aren’t very time efficient, but they are life-saving if you have any chance of misunderstanding or making incorrect assumptions!
- Comments mean every line of code can be understood clearly during maintenance, which helps with improvements or paths to new features.
- Try not to duplicate code.
- Points to remember
- Duplicating code is common in developers looking to save time and effort – but being a common practice does not make it a good practice.
- Reusing chunks or even just lines of code can cause more problems rather than solve them.
- Why this is a problem
- Duplicate code makes software bulky, which causes real-time delays for users and demands more space on their hard drives.
- Smooth processes make applications much more appealing.
- New features, changes, and maintenance will require simplification to and changes in the duplicated code across the whole software.
- There’s always a risk of bug duplication. If bugs are repeated, they must be fixed in every place the duplicated code is used.
- Security risks come with code duplications, too – gaps you are not aware of can cause vulnerabilities in your software.
- How to solve.
- It’s relatively simple – code that will often be used should be moved into its own class or function to recall when it is required.
- Duplicated code can be used in this way without the issues mentioned above. The thing is, for all the negative sides of code duplication, there’s an easy solution. Just by moving the code into its own function or class to later call them from all the places where you used them, you’ll have a fix for this common problem while avoiding the associated issues.
- Don’t underestimate the power of testing
- Points to remember
- Most software engineers don’t like testing their software, but it is an essential part of code development.
- Some developers don’t even know how to write tests.
- QA teams and professional testers can do it for you, but doing it yourself improves your knowledge of your code.
- Better code means easier testing later
- Small units can be tested for behavior and verified in a way that makes everything very much more straightforward.
The above advice may seem simplistic, and in a way, it is – at least, it’s simple to achieve. The actual path to achievement can be more challenging to traverse. It involves re-evaluating everything you know about how you currently code and being willing to make changes. Breaking habits is hard! If you’re determined, though, you can do it – and your code will thank you for it.