How to write high quality code?
Writing quality code is very important in web development because it helps in maintaining the code, and fix issues. It lets the new developers on the team write new codes or make changes for scaling the applications without affecting the other modules. With a good quality code, the software runs consistently along various platforms, without any failures. The software will not function well, or will not be considered reliable when it functions differently when you give the same input at different times, or on different platforms. It is the duty of the developer to ensure the quality of the code and assign it for frequent testing with different inputs that users are likely to apply.
Benefits of writing quality code
There are a number of advantages to having quality code in your application, let’s have a look at some of them:
1. Makes the software robust
A software with poor code quality eventually dries out, because it becomes obsolete and leads to substantial technical debt. A software with high quality code will be able to make the application user-friendly, even when there are error-messages coming. With proper code and a robust application, it is possible to send understandable error messages when something happens.
2. Good quality codes are highly readable
With good codes, you can increase the readability of the codes. Some of the factors that come into this are clear notations, proper indentations etc. With high quality code, editing becomes a piece of cake, as you can quickly make the changes. The team that comes after the original team will be able to understand their codes easily, and do the necessary edits.
3. Increases the life of the software
Every company wants to develop sustainable software, and for that you need codes that are highly qualitative. On an average a well functioning software can last as long as 6 years, but with mediocre software quality, this time can lessen greatly, and with constant technological developments in operating systems and hardwares, unless the software is able to keep up, it will be put to rest.
4. Decrease technical debt
Software development is pricey, so most companies want their softwares to work as long as they can, until the next upgrade is ready. With poor quality codes, the software has every chance of failing, thereby decreasing technical debt. So when new changes are made, the developers will have to do extra work, and this could be time and money consuming.
The developers might feel the pressure of deadlines and their workload often forces them to make compromises and even ignore code reviews. They believe that code reviews are time consuming and tedious, and so they do their best to avoid that step.
How to write high quality code?
Code quality is an aspect that’s defined by a number of attributes like readability, maintainability, reusability, error proneness, efficiency and modularity. Now, to get to the crux of the matter, how do you write high quality codes? While thinking about the code quality, it is important to take certain things into consideration. Check them out, because when you write the code, you have to keep these things in mind:
Just like the term suggests, how can you create codes that can be altered and upgraded with time? And this should be completely bug-free too. Following a clean and consistent coding standard would help develop maintainable codes, making it clear, readable, testable, consistent, cohesive, understandable, etc.
Through modularity, you will be able to define how independent the different chunks of codes are from each other. So when you make changes to one code chunk, you don’t want the whole software to come apart. A modular code must have constituent blocks of functionality strapped in, so whenever you need to make changes to one particular feature of the software, it will not affect the entire structure of the code.
Some parts of the code will have to be reused, sometimes, they will have to rewrite the entire code completely. For example, if you are having a couple of apps requiring user authentication, you can have the developer use the same code base for the log in. The degree of code reusability will of course depend on how tightly it’s coupled with the code base.
Ask any developer how readable their codes are and they would tell you their codes are highly readable. But are they really readable? While embarking on any software development project, developers have the experience that the codes will always go complex by the day. When the code lines grow by the day, it gets more complex than ever and even the developer themselves might forget the logic behind the decisions they made. And other people viewing these codes might get more confused than ever. It is important that the codes be readable to make maintainability easy. Readable codes are short lines of code with name variables (both descriptive and consistent)
A few rules to follow while writing the codes
Keep in mind these rules when you write the codes so you can write really good codes, and prevent the above mentioned issues from developing.
1. Follow the style guide
Each programming language comes with their own style guide, and even mentions the mistakes that developers make while writing the codes. Following this style guide can help you write better codes. Google has developed the style guides and released them in more than a dozen languages. These style guides come with editor settings and custom tools to ensure the codes adhere to the style, so follow that.
2. Comment and Document
It would be helpful to start every routine function or method with a comment explaining what the routine does, the possible errors, the exceptions and so on. Add the comments as you develop the code itself because you have to do it methodically, adding the role of each file and class, the steps of a complex code and the contents of each class field etc.
3. Insert descriptive names
Developers have the habit of shortening the names of the variables to make it easier for them. They need to use long descriptive names so that everyone will be able to understand them. Of course, there are some naming rules as well, for example, the class and type names should be sounds, the method names should have a verb and so on.
4. Don’t overdesign
Some developers have the tendency to design codes that are meant to accommodate future needs as well. But that could make the codes cumbersome, after all, who knows what the future may hold? So it is better not to create factory methods, parameterized classes, deep inheritance hierarchies, and highly advanced interfaces thinking it would help in the future.
Similarly, there are other rules to follow when you write codes, like checking for errors, splitting the code into short, focussed units, and above all, the code should adopt the framework conventions into which the programming language it is done.
It is important to achieve complete code testing before you release the product into the market. When you run the unit tests, make sure all the code lines are executed. You will never know if there could be any bugs hidden in the software if you leave out any lines of code.
The author: Sascha Thattil works at Software-Developer-India.com which is a part of the YUHIRO Group. YUHIRO is a German-Indian enterprise which provides programmers to IT companies, agencies and IT departments.