If you’re a self-taught web developer, you may have picked up some coding shortcuts. There’s certainly nothing wrong with this, but if your code is a bit higgledy-piggledy, it can be hard to hand projects over or for other developers to work on it. Put simply, the cleaner the code, the easier it is to read, adapt and work on – for yourself and others.
If you’ve looked at your code and it’s taken you a while to understand it, it has a few bugs or doesn’t quite do what it’s supposed to do, it’s probably worth revisiting your practice to clean up your coding. Follow these tips to help you code better:
1 - Establish your guidelines
Badly organised code is hard to work through and difficult to maintain. Establishing guidelines with coding standards from the off-set will help standardise naming conventions and formatting. This will help you when writing lengthy code, but it will also be useful for anyone who reads your code after it’s been written. Feel free to create your own coding standard, but for everyone’s ease, it’s best to stick to widely accepted coding standards
2 – Version control
Before the software was developed, we used to rely on developers applying diff patch files to maintain version control. That was best case scenario from good developers (lazy developers are excluded here!). These days we’ve got version control software to do that for us. Tracking and providing control over changes to source code is important as you’ll need a back-up should one version fall victim to a bug or corruption. This is equally as important if you’ve got different developers working on various parts of the project. Be sure to always use version control - you’ll thank yourself for it down the line.
3 – Testing
to test and render live code. You can also practice using W3 Schools’ free tutorials
– their live and interactive software simply flags up incorrect code: a lifesaver when you’re practising.
4 – Comment your code
You probably fall into one of two categories – you either comment on everything, or you comment on nothing. Be the person that comments, just don’t go overboard. Commenting on everything can have an adverse effect: your view can become cluttered which makes it harder to read. Make sure you’re only adding comments where they provide value. So, top line, class level and function level comments are good places to start.
5 – Code reviews
If you’re working on a project as part of a team, it’s worth conducting reviews of the code once you’ve completed a considerable amount of work. You want to review the code when you’re part way through to make sure there are no issues, and well before it’s too far through the development cycle. Often, it’s the code we write ourselves that is hardest to review; getting a colleague to read through it will help you spot issues that have the potential to put a spanner in the works if it’s wrong!
Now you’ve got some essential tips under your belt, what does that mean in practice?
Easier problem solving
Now that you’re thinking with your clean code hat on, the way you problem solve will have changed too. The techniques you apply will no longer be long-winded and clumsy – say hello to smarter and better algorithms and coding!
Now you’ve got code that’s succinct, it will be much easier to read and understand. So, if you’re looking to fix something, or someone else is revising the code, the process will be much quicker all round.
If you work with other programmers, your clean code will help everyone in the team stay on the same page. This will make the process clearer for the those involved and reduce the likelihood of mistakes being made.
If you’re an experienced developer, hopefully you’ve found these tips useful for getting you out of bad habits! If you’re new to coding and fancy yourself as a software or web developer, why not give it a go?
The IT industry is crying out for certified professionals – develop your career and earn an impressive salary, even from your first job in industry! Plus, as standard, you’ll get 3 years’ career support to help you land your job in development. With the likes of Arrows Group, NTT Data and GCI Group as our corporate partners who offer guaranteed interviews, your new career could be closer than you thought.
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