At ParallelScore, one of the most important qualities we look for when we hire is good programming habits. We look at programming etiquette as a pillar of professionalism and employability. Even with some of the most experienced programmers, some programmers unknowingly pick up bad habits along the line. These bad habits have significant implications on the teams, project, and outcomes.
The pressure to deliver more features quickly and meet deadlines push developers to opt for an alternative and shorter route, thereby resulting in poorly written/ bad code. The end doesn’t justify the means all the time. Bad code comes with grave implications and it is relatively expensive to maintain. It translates to technical debt that eventually has to be paid back.
Bad code affects the overall quality of projects and creates unnecessary complexity. The team spends more time trying to understand, comprehend, and fixing issues rather than delivering features. Good coding habits save time, eliminate stress, and reduce mistakes. These are some best practices that experienced programmers have discovered over the years and we focus on at Parallel Score.
Devise a plan
Rookie programmers tend to skip the planning phase of a project. In some cases, it’s not their fault. They are pushed by the stakeholders to dive into coding right away to demonstrate progress. As a result, there’s little to no consensus and vision on the project. It’s difficult to produce a high-quality product if there are multiple ideas and no general plan on how to execute. Good etiquette starts at the beginning and sets the stage for how successful a project will be. Here are some planning points we at Parallel Score keep in mind as we plan.
- Determine and gather the requirements for the projects. Make sure to identify use cases and fringe use cases.
- List technologies to employ: this involves tools, frameworks, languages.
- Find out the features to include: This involves the architecture diagram of the project and the elements. It is necessary to highlight each feature in the order of importance.
- Set a time limit: Know how much time you have for each of the stages of the project.
Get your set up built out in an intuitive way
There are several smaller tasks that can go a long way to save you time as you’re coding on a project. They include:
- Use comments to map out how your code works. This helps people understand what you were trying to do, helps you as a coder better talk through your plans, and breaks down the code into digestible actions.
- Create separate files for code based on their function jot down something in the comments for reference purposes;
- Carry out unit tests to ensure that the code works;
- Use code coverage to know how much of your code was executed by the tests
- Employ task management tools like Trello to boost your productivity level.
Document decisions and updates
It is also essential to insert each change you make into a written function and state your reason to help other users understand at first glance. Well-commented code will help other programmers understand your code better and get insight into the author’s thought process without having to come back to the writer every time they have a question. Once again, doing this upfront can save work and money later on.
Implement easy-to-read naming conventions throughout your code
Every company has centralized naming conventions. At ParallelScore, we have a preferred way of naming variables, functions, or classes. There is no standard approach to styling elements in a code. It is up to each software development team to reach a consensus on the styles or format to adopt and how to implement them during software development. It is crucial to use good and easy names and styles to encourage the code’s readability and reusability. Be specific and avoid using unnecessary words or abbreviations when naming conventions. For example, adding a _ to show two words in a name so it’s more understandable. (showtime vs show_time).
Each code module should be a reference. At ParallelScore, there are coding structures, templates and characters that are permitted. It is also advisable not to go over the 80 character limit. Linting tools can also come in handy because they help to minimize programming errors and improve the quality of the code.
Develop a system for version controls
Version control serves as a repository that allows teams to go back to and see the edits or changes they implemented in a previous version. Tracking versions like GitHub’s version control system allows team members to communicate their implementations and track changes in a file.
Ask for help and never stop learning
The best developers are constantly learning and exploring new and emerging technologies. Read articles, books, watch tutorials to acquire more knowledge. Do not be afraid to seek help from your seniors, mentors or other developers. There is a large universe of frameworks and technology which keeps expanding every day. The best way to learn is to experiment with projects, try proof of concepts and keep up with the latest information or emerging trends in the market. Expand your coding skills and perfect your craft. There are so many benefits that come with collaboration and knowledge-sharing. It builds trust with other programmers and it helps sharpen your skills through teaching and explaining difficult concepts. Try to contribute your code or program to open-source platforms, like GitHub. Ensure that you continue to keep on practising and learning.
Rest and build a social life
Do not take on more work than you can handle to avoid being stressed. For example; you can put in 40 hours of work in a week. Take a break between tasks and try to get enough rest. Self-care is also essential for an individual’s growth and development. By taking care of your mental and physical health, you can be a better developer. Your body and your mind need some time to recover and get more energy. Eat healthy meals, exercise, and have a social life outside of work.