Software development is a pathway to creating all sorts of amazing systems and products. However, creating high-quality software isn’t easy. There are a lot of teams out there with less-than-ideal software development practices. The following six suggestions will help you not only write better code but also collaborate on code more efficiently.
1) Plan as Much as You Write
Writing code is only a small portion of software development. In fact, in most cases, you should be planning your software at least as much as you are writing. Laying out the right groundwork can help to ensure that your code is organized, optimized and future-proofed. For example, if you are setting up a new AI-powered system, you will want to ensure that your machine learning infrastructure is planned well before you begin working on the rest of the software. Having a strong foundation will help to keep the rest of your code in order.
2) Document as You Go
Software documentation is one of the most important parts of creating any system. Whether you need to document your API so that outside developers can understand the system, or you just document for internal knowledge management purposes, you need high-quality documentation. Better yet, getting into good practices with documentation will improve your code design and planning. After all, if you can’t explain what a system is doing on paper, it is probably too complex for other developers to work on.
3) Test Continuously
Testing makes software better. You should incorporate testing into every aspect of your development processes. Coders should be running unit tests on the functionality they make. As pieces of code are completed, they should be integration tested. As a release is made ready, older code should be regression tested. This should be a continuous process throughout the software lifecycle. Modern DevOps approaches strive to make testing more automatic and standardized. This can help to ensure that every release is high-quality.
4) Automate What You Can
When possible, you should try to automate your development processes. As mentioned above, testing can be automated with standardized testing practices. Additionally, you can create automated workflows for your documentation. Automation has two key benefits. First, it offloads some work from your developers. The less minutia they have to do, the more time they can dedicate to high-value tasks. Second, it helps to standardize a lot of work within your organization. Being more predictable and consistent can help improve your software.
5) Validate and Check Code
You should have processes in place to validate and check all the code you are producing. For example, you may have automatic validation in place for all code produced by your team. This can check for non-critical errors that will allow the code to compile but may cause unintended consequences. Additionally, you should have code review practices. If your developers can’t simply explain their code to other technologists, the code is probably not well-organized. This has the added benefit of improving knowledge sharing in your development team(s).
6) Always Think About the Future
Finally, everyone involved with software should always be thinking about the future. No one should leave a problem to be dealt with by their future selves. This is asking for problems with the code. In nearly all cases, it is better to work slower and get things right from the start than to rush and mess things up. Good, object-oriented code should be ready for changes. This can be as simple as making sure that code is never replicated. Thinking forward should also be a part of your software planning. If your team expects to look back at code in the future with pride, that is a good sign.
Discover more about starting good coding practices today. With the right philosophy, your team could start to produce much better software. All it takes is a few changes to how you approach the software development process.