Improving code quality is a crucial aspect of software development. Whether a beginner or an experienced developer, always look for ways to make your code more efficient, readable and maintainable. In this post, we’ll explore seven steps you can take to improve your code quality.
1. Adopt a coding standard
A coding standard, a set of guidelines for writing code, ensures consistency and readability. It helps to standardize the code’s format, structure and style, making it easier for other developers to understand and maintain.
The main benefits of adopting a coding standard include:
- Consistency: A coding standard ensures that all code is written consistently, reducing the risk of bugs and improving the overall reliability of the code
- Readability: Well-written code is easy to read and understand. Coding standards ensure code is easy to read and maintain, making it easier for other developers to pick up where you left off
- Maintainability: A coding standard helps to ensure that code is written in a way that is easy to maintain over time. This can reduce the time and effort required to make changes to the code in the future.
- Improved teamwork: When everyone on a team follows the same coding standard, it makes it easier for developers to work together effectively. It helps to prevent misunderstandings and conflicts between team members.
Many established coding standards are available, and choosing the right one for your project will depend on your project’s programming language and specific needs. For example, PEP 8 is a widely-used coding standard for Python, while the Google Java Style Guide is a popular choice for Java.
2. Write automated tests
Automated tests are a way to catch bugs early on and prevent them from becoming bigger problems. Automated tests also ensure that changes to the code do not break existing functionality, providing confidence when making changes to the codebase.
The benefits of writing automated tests include:
- Early bug detection: Anything that helps you catch bugs early on saves time and effort in the long run and improves the overall quality of the code. Catching bugs later on is always more challenging to fix
- Improved confidence when making changes: When you have automated tests in place, you can confidently make changes to the code, knowing that the tests will catch any bugs you might have introduced
- Increased speed and efficiency: Automated tests can be run quickly and efficiently, making it easier to catch bugs and verify that the code works as expected.
- Reduced manual testing effort: Replacing manual testing efforts whenever you can frees up time and resources for tackling other tasks.
When writing tests, covering all relevant scenarios and edge cases is essential. This will help ensure the code is thoroughly tested, and bugs are caught early on. It’s also a good idea to write tests before you write the code, as this can help to clarify the requirements and ensure that the code is written to meet those requirements.
3. Use version control
Version control tracks change to the code over time, making it easier to revert to previous versions if necessary. Version control also enables multiple developers to work on the same codebase simultaneously without causing conflicts or losing work.
The benefits of using version control include:
- Track changes over time: Providing a way to track changes to the code makes it easier to revert to previous versions if necessary. This can be especially useful in case of bugs or other issues with the code
- Collaboration: By enabling multiple developers to work on the same codebase simultaneously without causing conflicts or losing work improves teamwork and improves the efficiency of developers working together
- Backup: Version control provides a backup of the codebase, making it possible to recover from accidents or mistakes
- Improved transparency: A clear history of changes to the code makes it easier to understand who made changes and why. This can improve transparency and accountability within a team
Many version control systems are available, with Git being one of the most popular. When using version control, it’s essential to follow best practices, such as using branches, writing descriptive commit messages, and regularly merging changes into the main codebase.
4. Refactor your code regularly
Refactoring is changing the structure of the code without changing its behavior. It can involve rewriting parts of the code to make it more readable, efficient or maintainable. The benefits of refactoring code include:
- Improved readability: Makes code more readable and straightforward for other developers to understand and maintain
- Increased efficiency: Makes code more efficient, reducing the time and resources required to run it
- Enhanced maintainability: Makes code more maintainable, reducing the time and effort required to make changes to the code in the future
- Reduced risk of bugs: Improving the overall reliability of the code
When refactoring code, it’s essential to keep the following in mind:
- Write automated tests: Before refactoring code, it’s essential to write automated tests to ensure that the code is working as expected. This will help to catch any bugs introduced during the refactoring process.
- Make small, incremental changes: Small changes are essential when refactoring code, as significant changes make catching bugs problematic. Small changes also make it simple to revert to previous versions when necessary.
- Document changes: It’s a good idea to document changes made during the refactoring process so that other developers can understand why changes were made and how the code works
5. Use code reviews
Code reviews are a process where one or more developers review the code written by another developer, providing feedback and suggestions for improvement. A must for all successful app development teams, code reviews help to catch bugs, improve code readability and ensure that code meets standards and best practices.
The benefits of using code reviews include the following:
- Improved code quality: Catches bugs and improves the overall quality of the code
- Enhanced collaboration: Enables developers to work together and collaborate, improving teamwork and communication
- Increased knowledge sharing: Provides a way to share knowledge and best practices within a team, helping to improve the overall quality of the code
- Reduced risk of bugs: Catching bugs early on improves the overall reliability of the code
When conducting code reviews, it’s essential to keep the following in mind:
- Encourage open and honest feedback: Code reviews should be a safe space where developers can provide honest and constructive feedback to one another
- Focus on the code, not the person: Code reviews should focus on the code itself, not the person who wrote it. Feedback should be constructive and focused on improving the code rather than criticizing the individual
- Make it a team effort: Code reviews should be a team effort, with multiple developers providing feedback and working together to improve the code
6. Use a linter
A linter is a program that checks the code for syntax errors, style violations and possible bugs. Using a linter, developers can quickly and easily identify problems in their code and make necessary improvements.
The benefits of using a linter include:
- Improved code quality: Helps to catch potential issues in the code, reducing the risk of bugs and improving the overall quality of the code
- Consistent code style: Helps to enforce a consistent code style, making code easier to read and maintain
- Enhanced productivity: Makes the development process more efficient by quickly and easily identifying potential issues in advance
- Reduced errors: Helps reduce errors in the code and improve the overall code reliability
When using a linter, it’s essential to keep the following in mind:
- Choose a linter that is appropriate for your language: There are many different linters available, and it’s essential to choose one that is appropriate for your language
- Configure the linter to meet your needs: You can configure linters to meet specific needs such as enforcing a particular coding style or checking for specific issues
- Integrate the linter into your development process: Linters can be integrated into your development process so that they are run automatically whenever changes are made to the code
By catching potential issues in the code, enforcing a consistent code style and making the development process more efficient, linters can help ensure high-quality code is easy to maintain.
7. Collaborate with other developers
Collaborating with other developers is an essential step in improving code quality. Collaboration brings various perspectives to the development process, helping to catch potential issues and improving the overall quality of the code. Particularly important when creating marketing assets that are a part of the customer journey, collaboration ensures apps are well-integrated with websites and other assets, providing a seamless and high-quality customer experience.
The benefits of collaborating with other developers include the following:
- Improved code quality: Bringing various perspectives into the development process helps to catch potential issues and improve the overall code quality
- Enhanced knowledge sharing: Spreads knowledge and best practices and improves the overall skill level of the development team
- Reduced risk of bugs: Helps reduce the risk of bugs, as multiple pairs of eyes can catch potential issues that a single developer may have missed
- Improved code review process: Improves the code review process, as multiple developers can review and provide feedback
By bringing various perspectives to the development process, reducing the risk of bugs and improving the code review process, collaborating with other developers can help ensure that you produce high-quality code that is easy to maintain.
Following these seven steps, you can make your code more efficient, readable and maintainable. Remember that these steps are just a starting point. You should always look for ways to improve your code quality further. Be sure to take a look at Prefix as one of your options. The real-time application profiler tests and validates code while applications are written, so you consistently release optimized high-performance applications and reduce issues when in production.
- 7 Steps to Improve Code Quality - March 7, 2023