Coding Standards The Way to Maintainable Code

Coding Standards – The Way to Maintainable Code

We live in a society that is running on rules or the laws as we call them. They are important for the smooth functioning of the society. In the same way, some rules have been made for the developers to follow. They are called coding standards. Let’s find out their necessity and use.

What are coding standards?

Nothing is permanent. The programmer writing the code today may leave the job for some time. The new entrant who takes over must maintain the code written prior to his appointment in addition to writing new code.

How to make the work easy for the newly appointed? The answer is simple – by standardizing the code. If coding standards are not followed, it is difficult to understand other person’s logic.

Coding standards are the conventions that are followed for writing readable code like file organization, indentation, comments, naming conventions, programming practices etc. They are the coding guidelines or best practices that one must follow while writing code.

Need for coding standards

There are numbers of ways in which following coding standards can prove to be a great support:

Makes the code systematic

Anything did in a methodical way always gives good results. Same is applicable to software. A code is written following the conventions is always more efficient than one bereft of it.

Easy maintainability

It is said that almost 40%-80% of the cost of a software goes into maintenance. There is very less possibility that the programmer who writes the code will always be present to take care of the bugs. If the code is written following standards, then it becomes easily maintainable for other programmers succeeding him as it has higher readability.

Easier to understand complex code

If a programmer is writing a complex piece of code and he does not follow coding conventions, it might become even difficult for even himself to remember the logic. So, it is essential to write well-documented code and follow the other coding conventions.

Need for less communication

Since the code follows a standard it is self-explanatory and requires less communication between managers and programmers.

Less prone to bugs and failures

The code that follows coding standards is less prone to bugs as several bugs caused due to poor developing practices can be avoided. Also, as the code is standardized it is less liable to failure. The code is well documented, so the logic is well understood which makes it robust.

Merging code of different programmers

It is very common, that the code developed by different programmers needs to be integrated. It becomes an easy task if both follow certain conventions.

Makes code reusable

Sometimes different programmers may face the same problems. If the same problem has been encountered earlier by a programmer and he has a solution well documented, then there is no use of reworking on the same problem.

More cost effective

 

More cost effective

 

A Well written code takes less time troubleshooting errors and provides code reusability. Hence, standard code consumes fewer man-hours making it cost effective.

Better quality

The code that follows conventions is uniform and hence of better quality. This ensures that it is also successful when it is released. Also, testing such code is much easier.

Enhanced security

Errors or bugs in code make it susceptible to security breaches. So, to make a code robust and secure, good coding practices must be followed so that bugs and errors are kept to a minimum.

Fewer performance issues

Bad coding also affects the performance of the software like problems in user interaction or server response. If good coding conventions are followed, there are fewer performance issues.

 

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Easier to get certified

A coding standard is one of the criteria for obtaining ISO:9001 certifications. So, a good coding convention is a step forward towards getting an ISO certification for your organization.

Some common coding best practices

 

Placing comments in the code

The purpose of complex logic, routines, and functions must be well documented. This makes the code more readable.
Also, you must put comments where it is really required and avoid unwanted comments, for instance, you must avoid comments like
While (x>10)
{// starting While brace
}// ending While brace

Indenting the code

It is very important to make correct use of the white spaces and indent the code. This makes the coding easy to understand.

Group code into logical groups

You can group related functions or routines by preceding them with comments. Similar functions can be grouped and separated from the other group by providing spacing between them.

Common naming conventions across the code

You should follow the same coding conventions to name the variables, functions etc. across the code. This makes the code uniform. Also, you must give meaningful names to variables which enhances the readability of the code.

Common naming conventions are Camel case and Underscore. In Camel case, the first letter of each word is capitalized except the first word (eg. addRecord) while in Underscore naming convention you place an underscore between each word (eg. add_record).

Avoid repeating code

It is a bad practice to repeat the same code at more than one places. It is better to implement code reusability by a modular approach which all programming languages support.

 

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Avoid too much deep nesting

Too much deep nesting makes the code difficult to understand so it must be avoided. Different languages provide different ways in which too much deep nesting can be restricted, for instance, in Excel you can use the IFS function, VLOOKUP, or the CHOOSE function instead of multiple IF THEN.

Shorter lines

The length of lines must not be too long because it reduces the readability. Ideally, a line must not exceed 80 characters. You should try to keep the code as simple as possible.

Well organized files and folders

If the code is organized into files and folders, then it increases the readability and maintainability. Having the entire code in one single file makes it difficult to manage.

Refactoring the code

Refactoring means improving the code without any change in the functionality. Through refactoring, any duplicate code can be removed and code that is independent can be put into separate functions. It makes the code clean and simple and enhances the readability.

Portability

 

Portability

 

The programs must not contain hard-coded values for the file path, username, hostnames and the like. Instead, these must be configured through parameters at the time of installation. This makes the code portable as the application can be installed on multiple systems without any changes required in the code.

Conclusion

The purpose of building computer applications is to make our life simple. But if the application is not well designed following the coding conventions, it might just prove to be the reverse.

So, it is important that the code you write adheres to the conventions set by the organization so that it may be able to fulfill the very purpose for which it has been designed.

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