Software engineering is more than just learning a language and writing code. You are expected to write good software as a software engineer or developer. So, what exactly constitutes good software? Reading some code written in the project can help you judge good software. If the code is simple to understand and change, it is undoubtedly good software, and developers enjoy working on it. It’s common in development that no one wants to continue working on a project with bad or messy code (it can be a nightmare). Due to time constraints, developers may avoid writing clean code. They rush to go faster, but what happens is that they go slower.
Whether you are a new or experienced programmer, you should always strive to become a good programmer (not just a programmer). Remember that you are responsible for the quality of your code, so write it so that other developers can understand it and don’t mock you every time they try to understand the jumbled code you wrote in your project. What Constitutes a Clean Code: Before we get into writing clean and better code, let’s look at some of its characteristics. Well-written code should be readable. Elegant code should be written. It should be enjoyable to read and make you smile.
Clean code should be simple and straightforward. It should adhere to the principle of single responsibility (SRP). Clean code should be simple to understand, simple to change, and simple to maintain. All tests should pass if the code is clean. How Do You Write Cleaner Code?
Make Use of Meaningful Names
You will be naming variables, functions, classes, arguments, modules, packages, directories, etc. Make it a habit to give your code meaningful names. Whatever names you use in your code, they should serve three functions:
- what it does
- why it exists,
- and how it is used.
As an example: int b; // number of users.
In the preceding example, you must include a comment alongside the name declaration of a variable, which could be a better coding practice. The name you give your code should reveal its intent. It should explain why a variable, function, or method exists. In the preceding example, a more appropriate variable name would be: int number_of_users. It may take some time to come up with meaningful names, but it will make your code much cleaner and easier to read for both other developers and yourself. Also, keep the names to three or four words.
SRP (Single Responsibility Principle)
In any programming language, classes, functions, or methods are a good way to organize the code, so when writing code, you need to think about how to write a function that communicates its intent. Most beginners make this mistake: they write a function that can handle and perform almost everything (multiple tasks). It makes your code more difficult for developers to understand and causes issues when they need to fix bugs or locate code. So, when writing a function, keep two things in mind to keep your function clean and easy to understand.
- They should be compact.
- They should only focus on one thing and do it well.
The preceding two points state unequivocally that your function should adhere to the principle of single responsibility. That is, it should not have a nested structure or more than two indent levels.
Avoid making superfluous comments
Developers frequently use comments to specify the purpose of a line of code. While comments are extremely useful for explaining what the code does, they also necessitate more code maintenance. When developing code, move it around, but if the comment stays in the same place, it can cause a big problem. It can cause developers to become confused, and it can also distract them due to irrelevant comments. You shouldn’t use comments at all; they can sometimes be useful. If you’re dealing with a third-party API and need to explain some behavior, you can use comments to explain your code but only write comments where required. Today’s programming languages have English-like syntax, sufficient to explain the purpose of a line of code. Give variables, functions, and files meaningful names to avoid comments in your code.
Write Understandable & Logical Syntax
Many people, especially beginners, make the mistake of writing everything in a single line and not using proper whitespace, indentation, or line breaks in their code. It muddles their code and makes it difficult to maintain. There’s always the possibility that another human will discover your code and have to work with it. It wastes the time of other developers who try to read and understand the jumbled code. As a result, you should always pay attention to the formatting of your code. You will also save time and energy when you return to your code after a few days to make changes.
Make sure your code has proper indentation, space, and line breaks to make it readable to others. Your coding style and formatting impact the maintainability of your code. Software developer is remembered for the coding style they employ in their code.
Follow Unit Test Approach
Writing code and then doing unit testing is a critical step for a developer but it makes your code more readable, flexible, and easy to maintain. Making code changes and reducing bugs becomes easier. Test Driven Development (TDD) is a software development process in which requirements are converted into specific test cases, and then the software is improved to pass new tests.
You are only permitted to write production code if it is required to pass a failing unit test. You are not permitted to write more of a unit test than is required to fail, and compilation failures are considered failures. You may only write production code if required to pass the one failing unit test.
Writing code does not have to be difficult. Following five tips, you can write cleaner, more maintainable code that is easier to read, modify, and debug. Furthermore, applying these tips is significantly less than attempting to make sense of a chaotic codebase, so consider it a wise investment. It can also improve your software’s overall quality and reliability, making it easier to maintain and evolve over time.