Clean codes are necessary when programming or coding a software application. Some programmers (from beginners to experts) sometimes fail to follow the basic principles when writing codes, thereby they find it difficult to read or understand their own hard written codes in the future. This document addresses ten(10) fundamental coding techniques that improve the readability and maintainability of code. The readability of a source code has a direct impact on how well a developer comprehends a software system. Code maintainability refers to how easily that software system can be changed to add new features, modify existing features, fix bugs, or improve performance. Although readability and maintainability are the result of many factors, one particular facet of software development upon which all developers have an influence is coding technique. The easiest method to ensure that a team of developers will yield quality code is to establish a coding standard, which is then enforced at routine code reviews.
Now let's look at the different ways to write clean code, regardless of what programming language you are working on.
1. Internalize Your Code
As a developer, creating a mental picture of how your codes will look like before you start coding is necessary. If possible, start by realizing the code on a piece of paper. The algorithm and the whole compiler process will look more meaningful once you understand the idea behind the code. The best way to solve a complex problem or formulate an algorithm to solve any complex problem is by breaking it into sub-parts and then trying to formulate a solution for each.
2. Simplify Your Code
It is a good practice, as a developer, to keep your code as simple and readable as possible. By keeping it simple you can get the results you need with a few lines of code, produce higher quality code, solve problems faster, work effectively in developer groups and have a more flexible code base, among other things.
Although properly commenting source codes serve no purpose at run time, it is important to a developer who must maintain a particularly complex or cumbersome piece of software. Adding comments to your code makes updating, debugging, analyzing and other post-programming activities easier and more efficient. Further, if you are working as a team, having comments in the code makes it convenient for the other members to understand.
4. DRY Principle
DRY stands for Don't Repeat Yourself. Also known as DIE: Duplicate Is Evil. The principle states,
"Every piece of knowledge must have a single, unambiguous, authoritative representation within a system."
This is the use of functions, classes and instances to allow you to avoid retyping code that has already been written once. This fundamental principle allows developers to avoid duplication to produce much cleaner code compared to the programmer who uses unnecessary repetition. Optimizing the code is what often separates a great coder from an average one.
5. Consistent Indentation
Indenting your codes is similar to arranging things in your room. Imagine you wake up one morning and there is no consistency in the arrangement of stuff in your room. Your shoe is in your bath tab, your toothbrush in your shifted couch, your shirt on top of the refrigerator and so on. Indentation in the code is much like the arrangement that you need in your room or any other place in the real world. When your code is indented, it becomes more readable and easier to find what you're looking for.
6. Naming Convention
Having a proper naming convention is extremely important in a code as the doors for future edits and updating is always wide open. Having irrelevant or contradicting names to your pages, variables, functions or arrays will only create troubles for you in the future. Therefore, name elements on the basis of what they are and make it a habit to maintain a convention throughout your code. Avoid the use of names that expose the underlying implementation. This means that a name should tell "what" rather than "how". For example, you could use
GetNextStudent() instead of
7. Capitalize SQL Special Words
Database interaction is a big part of most web applications. When writing raw SQL queries, it is a good idea to keep them readable as well.
Even though SQL special words and function names are case insensitive, it is a common practice to capitalize them to distinguish them from your table and column names.
SELECT `id`, `username` FROM `user`;
8. Learn New Programming Skills
About 98% of expert developers or coders started with
Hello World! I'm not an exception. Learning and using new programming skills is the only way to make you an expert. There are lots of help available in the form of videos, fora, blogs and online courses. With the help of Google, getting access to these online resources has been made easy. Make good use of them and keep coding, for the more you code, the better you get.
9. Lessen Copy & Paste
As a developer, there are times you might get stuck and seek for help either on the internet or from any other source. Try as much as possible to modify the source codes you get from those sources. Use the help that you are getting to your advantage and try to optimize the code that you have. There is so much joy in writing codes and solving problems by yourself.
10. Test Your Application
Most users discontinue using a software application or service because the first time they opened that software or website, the only thing they saw was a rectangular box on display because the browser was not capable of displaying requested content or an unhandled exception occurred. To avoid these situations as a developer, your final work must be to check how your website displays on different devices and make the required changes accordingly. For desktop applications, it is necessary to test your application on different operating systems and frameworks. The saying, "Don't judge a book by its cover", does not hold true for programming languages because the better your display looks, the more appreciation your work gets.
I hope you enjoyed reading this article. Any omissions? Kindly let me know via the comments.