Writing code and developing high-quality software is a work of art. As soon as a developer starts writing code, it becomes crucial to keep it bug-free, sustainable, easily understandable, and traceable.
For one developer, code quality might not be the issue because he/she will perceive the code from one angle. However, when it comes to the team where different developers come together from different perspectives and experiences - code quality becomes the arising problem.
Simply put, ensuring the quality of code is not only limited to the developer but also involves the tester and managers as even one line of poorly written code can cause the entire system to crash (maybe we exaggerate, but you know what we mean).
In this blog, we will cover what code quality is, why it matters, and ways to improve the quality of code with ease. So let’s get started!
Code quality is the attributes and characteristics of code that may differ according to the goals of an organization and the needs of its team. As there are numerous criticalities and purposes a code may serve, code quality can be subjective and open to arguments.
However one thing is for sure, quality code does what is expected of it and follows a consistent style. According to our experience, when we hear the word high-quality code, we expect it to:
- Be easily understandable
- Have minimum bugs
- Does what’s expected
- Follow used programming language conventions
In simple terms, code quality is a term that describes readability, orderliness, understandability, and maintainability in the source code. Code understandability is important for both current and future programmers as it will help them in comprehending the purpose of code that was written by previous developers.
“It is important to maintain the quality of the code, but why?” You might ask. So let’s take a look at the reasons in the next section.
As the first law of programming states “lowering quality lengthens development time.”
In simpler terms, you can develop quality software in the least amount of time. Having code that is as simple as possible, a design that fits accurately, complete tests, and frequent changes help you develop and deploy an application within the given time with higher quality. On the other hand, having to look out for errors and bugs now and then due to lower code quality can lead to slower development and increased cost of development and maintenance.
Good code quality ensures highly readable codes with proper indentation, use of comments, simplicity, and clear notation in the development flow, making code editing more efficient.
Besides, with good quality code, software applications become more robust, and sustainable while enhancing data transferability and reducing development costs.
Now that we know what code quality is and why it is important to maintain, it is time to move ahead and understand the ways to improve code quality.
The key to improving code quality is holding to high cohesion and loose coupling.
An element's cohesion describes how they are related.
Having low cohesion leads to a spread-out codebase making it hard to discover and keep track of code.
The closer related codes are, the more cohesive they will be. With high cohesion, we can achieve the Don’t Repeat Yourself (DRY) code and minimize module information duplication. This allows developers to easily design, write, deploy, test, and maintain code.
On the other hand, modules should be independent of each other so that changing one of them doesn’t impact the others. If your modules are coupled tightly, they will be privy to unnecessary details and the working of other modules, which will make coordination hard. While loose coupling makes changes to modules easier as it does not affect the working of other modules in the application system.
Another thing to keep in mind while you want to improve the code quality is explaining why in the comments not what.
Simply, comments should never state what the code does as its purpose should be clear by itself. Comments need to explain WHY you were using that code.
Moreover, working in a team, you might notice that code is moved around by the developers as they edit your code lines. It makes it essential to leave your name next to a comment.
Another thing to do while writing code is explained without the assumption that others know what’s going on or how your system works. You will have to explain quirks of internal and external systems, legacies, when these legacies can be removed, hacks you used, and internal dependencies.
An analysis tool known as Lint is used to discover bugs, suspicious constructs, stylistic errors, and programming errors in a program. Using code linters like JSLint, ESLint, Sublime linter, etc. a developer can avoid several problems. It helps in identifying and debugging technical errors as code smells in the source code while web application development.
Linted makes the code readable, consistent, and maintainable by ensuring that minimal defects make it to the production environment.
Coding conventions are guidelines for a certain language that is being used in the software development process and recommend programming practices, styles, and methods for every aspect of the language.
Sometimes a development team establishes code conventions for the entire business module and other times for certain projects. By using coding conventions, businesses can encourage developers to write code in the same pattern to make code easier to understand by others and find files and classes in a large project with ease.
Coding conventions cover indentations, white space, file organization, comments, naming conventions, programming principles, architectural best practices, statements, etc.
Although the name “clever code” sounds like code should be easily understandable, it is not the case. In most cases, clever code is the code that does not explain its purpose in the source code. What this means is that if a beginner or intermediate programmer will see the code it will require a few minutes to figure the code out.
Sometimes, what is hard for me to understand in the code lines might be easier for you. So our main focus should be writing code that is understandable by others rather than just ourselves.
Comparatively, writing clear code that is simple, logical, and understandable will lead to fewer problems and always works as expected.
Most people go ahead with single or double variable names when they code, others use generic names like value, arr, etc. which makes debugging and understanding the code time-consuming and confusing. Instead of using variable names like a,b,c, or x,y,z, giving expressive or meaningful variable names makes it easier to understand the code.
To give meaningful names you can use intention-revealing, pronounceable, searchable names while avoiding encodings that will improve the code readability and understanding, leading to better code quality.
The biggest quality of good code is its proper functioning. Testing is the best way to ensure it.
Although writing tests can be hard, it will save a lot of errors and bugs in the future. These tests will be triggered locally before pushing or committing code to the repository to give you an evaluation of the app performance, hence, giving you confidence in its working.
Some of the tools that you can use for code testing are Selenium, QUnit, Chai, Jasmine, Mocha, and Karma.
Code review is the process of systematically and consciously meeting with fellow developers to check code mistakes from each other leading to streamlined and accelerated development of the software application.
More often than not, software developers, as well as managers, ignore the incredible benefits code reviews can offer. When done tactfully, code reviews save a lot of time and money spent on identifying bugs that slip through automated testing systems.
Some of the common approaches to doing tactical code reviews include pair programming, over-the-shoulder, tool-assisted, eMail thread, etc.
However, it is extremely important to not be overly critical of someone’s code as you want the conversation about the code rather than the person who wrote it. Although there shouldn’t be arguments over differences in opinions, discussions are always welcome.
We hope now you understand what the code quality is, why it matters, and the ways to improve it. To give you a brief, you can improve the code quality by favoring high cohesion, loose coupling, commenting whys, using code linters, adding code conventions, writing clear code, giving meaningful variable names, code testing, and reviewing.
If you are a business owner who wants to develop their app with high code quality, then hire developers from authenticated and trustworthy companies with years of experience like Decipher Zone.