Regardless of the programming language you use here are 6 ways to help you write better code.
1 — Spend more time designing
They say, and it’s true spend 90% planning and 10% doing. Without a good design, ie a clear goal and a roadmap all your efforts will only spin wheels.
Work with complete specifications and exhaustive documentation to ensure you fully grasp the problem your software solution aims to solve.
Work with all parties involved to include testers, stakeholders, product managers and employ test-driven development as part of your implementation plan.
Writing code is both an art and a science so balance creativity and logic when designing your project. The planning and designing stage of your project is the best time to reduce complexities and solidify your software to ensure you’re on track to producing a quality outcome.
2 — Keep it Clean
Use coding standards particularly when it comes to documenting your code. Ensure your code has a logical flow and avoid being too clever with syntax instead focus on readability. Keep in mind that your code will be maintained by developers when you’re long gone so have compassion for them.
There is a thin line between over-engineering your solution and doing enough to meet specifications.
Avoid over engineering and don’t use overly complex designs to solve simple problems. Don’t implement features which are not needed (or may be required in the future). Avoid engineer mindset creep that is to build for the fun of building.
Keep things simple, complexity introduces more problems then it fixes. Reduce complexity at the design stage through development and deployment to deliver a more robust and relevant solution.
3- Chunk your code
When handling large, complex projects, break your solution into modules or chunk code based on functionality.
Modularity increases fault tolerance and makes debugging easier.
Modularizing your code leads to reusability of code and speeds up feature development because you don’t need to reinvent the wheel every time a new feature is requested or bug reported.
4 — Readability is everything
Software projects have become more and more complex over the years. No longer can a programmer operate in isolation to craft a solution. With the advent of open source and the move away from custom RTOS’s towards embedded Linux the need to collaborate is stronger than ever.
Sure there are still plenty of embedded projects which don’t require an RTOS but with microcontroller becoming cheaper and cheaper by the day and the availability of powerful free development toolchains and open source libraries programmer are no longer re-inventing the wheel thereby cutting the time to market for embedded products.
So bear this in mind and strive to make your code easy to follow logically and ensure it’s well documented and easy to understand.
Bad coding practices make code hard to read, difficult to reuse and poor on performance.
5- Document everything
If your code is difficult to understand or read, then other developers will find it hard to maintain thereby slowing down time to market on fixes and enhancements.
Proper documentation and in code comments will keep you on track and will always remind you of the why’s as well as help future developers to read, understand and reuse your code.
6 — Incorporate Testing
Testing is underrating by programmers and typically an afterthought — big mistake.
Incorporate testing from the outset — use test-driven development if you can during the development cycle. Work with the QA team to understand how your software will be integrated, and regression tested.
Conduct unit and functional testing and debug your code to eliminate errors quickly.
Use static analysis tools and hardware debuggers such as in-circuit emulators, logic analysers and oscilloscopes to debug your code.
Develop test cases during the planning stage and use these during the development cycle.
Refactor code to improve non-functional attributes such as readability, maintainability and extensibility. Refactoring can help discover hidden bugs and vulnerabilities within the software by simplifying the program and reducing complexity.
Writing robust software demands careful planning, collaboration and logical thinking. It’s more than a skill its a habit. Always strive to make your code simple, consider multiple perspectives and adhere to best practices to craft software which will stand the test of time.
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