Coding may not be an insanely difficult job itself but writing clean & efficient code can seem to be impossible if you do not follow some simple yet highly useful tips.
From all the massive tech revolutions across the world and even from our articles, you may have already got an idea about how important it is to keep developing new applications for satisfying user needs. Well, those development works are the result of writing efficient codes, and we are going to focus on some amazing tips and best practices for mastering that.
It is universal that no one normally likes clutter because that creates insane difficulties when one tries to get something productive out of it. Hence, clean code is a piece of code that one can easily understand even if he/she does not already know anything about it.
A clean code must be something that the entire team can easily work on and extend as required. For that, it must follow some guidelines that the team agreed on.
Writing clean code is highly important in terms of maintaining seamless collaboration among the entire team. So, how does that make sense?
Well, any individual developer can write a piece of code in his/her own way and that code can work normally and the person who developed it may know everything about it. But you must already know that codes can get bugs anytime or a need may appear to update it. In such cases, if a different developer tries to deal with the code, he/she may not figure out the minute points in the code that are likely to have bugs.
That is why it is crucial to write clean code so that anyone can easily understand, maintain, update, and extend it whenever required.
Now, to determine that the code is clean, you have to consider a few aspects. Here, we have jotted down a few questions that you can ask yourself about the code to find out if it's clean or not.
Now, as you know what clean code is, it’s time to look at some tips for writing clean code.
Writing a piece of code involves using a lot of names for variables, classes, functions, modules, arguments, packages, directories, and so on. Often many developers keep using random words or alphabets as important names. Now, when your code is small, it may not be very difficult to understand them. But, as the code gets larger, it becomes insanely hard to figure out what those names represent. For example,
int a = 10;
Here, “a” represents the number of users but anyone reading this code for the first time can hardly understand what “a” refers to.
int a = 10; //”a” represents the number of users
Here, because of the comment at the declaring line, one can get to know what “a” stands for but for a better understanding, you need to add that comment at every occurrence of “a” in the entire code, and that can really clutter the code.
int number_of_users = 10;
Here the variable name clearly depicts what it stands for. Hence, no matter where and how many times you write the variable name in the entire code, there will be no issue for anyone to understand it.
So, it is a great practice to choose names that are meaningful to the context of what you are declaring.
You may already know that a code contains numerous functions, classes, or methods, and you must have also heard that any single function or class can be utilized in various instances. Well, there is some more to it. Depending on the similarity in logical requirements, one function or class can be used in multiple instances but with proper modifications.
However, here the point is that an important principle in coding is that one single function or class should perform only one task with maximum efficiency. But, most beginner programmers often make the common mistake of including almost every logic in a single function and end up creating functions & classes that crash frequently and do not perform any task properly. Also, making functions or classes that long with so many logical operations creates immense difficulties for other developers and QA engineers to test them or fix any bugs.
That’s where the Single Responsibility Principle (SRP) comes into play and states that one function must care about fulfilling one single responsibility. This can be elaborated as follows -
This principle enables you to write functions that are small and care about doing only one thing individually with maximum efficiency. Also, you should follow the rule of ensuring that your function does not have more than three arguments. Overall you must make sure that every function or class or method in your code is small and expert at performing the single task/responsibility provided to it.
Empty lines are super important to maintain the readability of the code. Imagine if you are reading thousands of lines of code without any line gap, it will certainly look confusing to your eyes and you will face difficulties reading it.
That’s why it is always a great practice to add empty lines after important portions such as declaring a variable, creating a function, returning the result, and so on.
It is a widely-used highly effective development practice to add comments to clarify the purpose of a line in the code. And, the comments can indeed be very helpful if they are written up to the mark. But, here our point of concern is that those comments can also cause trouble if they are added without any motive.
Yes, such unnecessary comments are a true scenario. Sometimes, developers add too many comments or forget to remove or update the comments when the code is updated. That creates immense levels of confusion when someone who doesn’t know the purpose of the code, tries to read it or to make changes for improving it.
Hence, the best practice is to maintain a good balance and strategy for adding comments. That means whenever you are dealing with crucial operations such as using third-party APIs or declaring new variables or writing complex codes and so on, do add meaningful comments in brief. But, if there is any change in the code or you feel that the comments are becoming unnecessary anywhere, consider removing them.
Well, the previous point was about avoiding too many comments in the code but you must know that you should focus on maintaining detailed documentation for every piece of code. Clear documentation about a code is one of the most important things that help everyone understand the objective behind it. Hence, you must prioritize it.
Being consistent is a great practice in every field. Similarly, you must focus on maintaining consistency in writing your code. That means you must follow an efficient and clean coding pattern so that anyone who reads your code can easily understand who wrote the code and what the objective behind the code is.
Writing unit tests is much more important than you realize. Unit tests are the primary step to ensure that every small module of your code/application is working properly. That’s why you must write unit tests carefully so that any change in the code does not hamper any existing unit.
In technical terms, it can be called that you should follow the test-driven development approach where you must write code in a way that they pass the tests. Robert C. Martin (Uncle Bob) has stated the three laws of TDD demonstrate as -
Following these guidelines about TDD is a great approach for writing clean code.
It is one of the first things that developers should start following. This is the principle that exempts you from writing the same code multiple times for executing similar tasks.
Hence, in such repetitive instances, the best practice is to use loops and functions that will perform those similar tasks efficiently without making you go through the illogical process of writing the same code again and again.
Having said that, you must also maintain a good balance between writing code multiple times and the DRY principle because overuse of this principle can lead you to over-abstraction which can cause different issues.
You must already know about dependencies that are often used in various aspects of software development. They are highly useful for various requirements but they can also cause some issues. For example, the function that categorizes users according to their location can use their addresses in the user data but the addresses in the user data must not work with that function only.
That means you should focus on having one-directional dependency or else multi-directional dependencies can lead to various problems. In bidirectional dependency, both entities depend on each other as well as they exist together even being separate. In such cases, it becomes difficult to update the systems that do not form a singular direction. Hence, you must stay careful about dealing with dependencies.
This must be one of the most important approaches in every field. If you don’t keep your projects well organized and keep adding, modifying, or deleting files randomly, it will become insanely cumbersome for other team members to work on those projects.
That’s why you must keep all your project files, folders, directories, and everything properly organized and maintain an overall efficient strategic structure. Then it will be much easier for your entire team to access them whenever required and effectively collaborate with each other for better results.
This article tells you about the best practices that you should follow to write and maintain clean code. Also, you must know that maintaining efficient codes needs you to effectively test them, and there is no better way to test your application than using advanced test automation tools like Preflight.