Top 10 Programming Practices to Code like a Pro😎
Hey there folks! When you got less time to code a program, you find yourself falling prey to shortcuts. But at the end of the day, such practices only lead to poor quality code, wasted efforts, and the worst of all, bad coding habits ಥ_ಥ
Now, you might say, why do coding habits even matter if the code is working? The thing is that if you implement good coding practices, they will save you time, effort, resources, and a hell lot of headaches. Moreover, you'll get a working code too! This is a win-win situation right?
So, today I present to you 10 of the best coding practices that you can start utilizing right now ;)
1. Backup and save your work
A dead battery, blackout, fire, nuclear disaster, and the worst and cutest disaster: your cat sitting on your laptop – all of these may result in loss of data. Always make sure to save often and back up your code on some kind of version control system. This is quite a simple way to ensure that your code stays safe. The reason that I discussed this point first is that if you lose your code, how are you gonna implement the other programming practices I'm gonna talk about? I can't stress this enough, back up and save your work people!!! If you lose your work just because of a minor issue, then all your hard work, all-nighters and headaches are gonna be for nothing.
2. Comment and Document
A very important habit that could help you and others that may use your code is to start each function or method you create with a comment. You can outline exactly what the function or method does, its parameters, and what it returns in the comment. You should also describe any possible errors or exceptions. Doing this practice right from the beginning keeps you consistent with commenting. You may be tempted that you could come back later and add this, but chances are that you won't.
In addition to commenting, be sure to document what your code does. This can be a short README file or a big document depending on your program. No matter what it is, this guide should explain exactly the actions that the code performs. The guide should include any dependencies and instructions on how to build, install, test, or use your code.
3. Use descriptive variable names
In the past, programmers faced a lot of difficulties while naming variables and were limited by slow, clunky interfaces. Above all, they needed to save time, ink, and paper. So they used short variable names that were often non-descriptive. Today, we don't face as many difficulties as they did. Still, the culture of vague naming conventions continues. Being descriptive while naming variables is gonna save you a lot of headaches.
These days, it's not as if you can't use short names though. But the point is that will you remember what exactly that name meant a month or even a week from now? Will some other programmer who sees your code or works on the same project understand what that certain variable was for? Most of the time, this happens if you don't add comments;
To avoid such things, the names should be descriptive For example, instead of simply writing “getLowest”, you might write “getLowestAttendance”. Think a bit about what you’re actually trying to do with your code. Then name the variables or even the functions used in your code, appropriately.
4. Do not hard code
For all those who don't know what is hard coding: It is fixing data or parameters in a program in such a way that they cannot be altered without modifying the entire program.
Avoid hard-coding anything, other than constants. System-level settings, usernames, passwords, etc. should never be hard-coded. Hard coding could be seen as irresponsible with major consequences. If your "hard-coded" code ever becomes accessible, it represents a huge security risk when endpoints and access credentials are exposed. Moreover, security pitfalls should always be avoided, at any cost. Safety is a good coding practice as well as the best practice for every single step of the project.
5. Write readable and efficient code
Every person has their own coding standards. Some might prefer one style over the other when it comes to certain things like naming conventions, file structure, etc. There are IDEs where you can set your preferred style. When all the files of the projects use the same style, naming convention, spacing, etc., your code becomes easier to read and understand.
Yes, I know that everybody wants to be as efficient and optimized as possible. Sometimes programmers flex their skills and talents by writing complex code. But the thing is that nothing matters when no one can even read your code! I don't know who said this but;
Readable code is understandable code
6. Test your code
This is a vital programming practice. Nothing matters if your code doesn't work. While coding, if you ever come across an error or an exception, don't brush this off. It could be a sign of a great disaster. Even if the bug is small and can be fixed later, still, remove that bug now. I'll repeat that for the people in the back, remove that bug now people! Chances are that you are gonna forget about little Mr. Bug and he's gonna come haunt you later on.
Don't assume that everything's gonna go perfectly. If there is an exception, deal with it immediately. Handling exceptions can make your code longer Yes, this can make your code longer and possibly even subtract from its readability, but ignoring the problem doesn't make it go away. I don't think anyone would want their code going out into the world with any sort of error that they knew they could have possibly fixed.
Automated testing tools can also help to validate builds and releases while making your code more supportable. These tests are a form of documentation. They will tell you how the code is supposed to perform. Never sweep any coding problem under the rug. Test your code often even while writing it and make the changes required, so that you save yourself from any future hassles.
7. Limiting your line length
Ever read a newspaper article? Or a blog article? Our eyes always like to read tall and narrow blocks of text as we find reading long lines hard. Therefore, even while coding, limit your line length to 80-90 characters. This would be a good length if you are reading code from a terminal window. Keep your lines short and split your code in small blocks so that everything piece of code would fit in perfectly in a decent-sized window. If you are writing a big program, then divide it into short sections, adding a comment at the top of each one explaining its function. Keep your code short and simple but make sure that it is efficient too!
As a programmer, you sit in front of your desk a lot, alone. If you can't do something you may also want to smash that desk too. But things can be different when you collaborate with someone, be a part of a team. You can share your progress and ideas with them. Different minds sitting together working on something may lead to new and better ideas.
If you’re an experienced programmer, you may mentor a junior programmer. Maybe you could learn something too while doing so. If you’re fresh out of school, you might find a mentor who can teach you something. Moreover, while working with your team, you just might become friends and this may lead to more adventures. Collaboration is one of the most overlooked coding practices, but it is an essential one.
9. Be consistent
A consistent programmer is a good programmer. No matter what you do, consistency is important. For example, when you're making a new method with functions that matches an existing one, be sure to use a comparable name, parameter order, and structure for the code's body. The same can be used for classes. The new class created should also have the same interface and match any new names with those already existing. If you find out that there is no convention for something you are working on, create one by yourself and then just stick to it. This is a good practice that will make your code more readable and help you to find any bugs or errors easily.
10. Have fun
At the end of the day, it’s important to remember why you got into coding in the first place! Hopefully, it was because you enjoy it. If you are a programmer, then you spend a large number of hours writing code, so you should always try to have fun. Work on projects that intrigue you. Work in a place or in an environment that you like and are comfortable in. Be around people that you like to be around. Remember that, if you aren't happy, then you can't write a code that is gonna make your employers happy. So, have fun while coding!
Good coding practices are all about writing readable code, being consistent, handling errors efficiently and saving everything to version controls. But they’re also about having fun and enjoying the process of what you’re doing. If you follow these practices, you're gonna start coding like a pro in no time ;)