Software Development Best Practices 2023 Update
The average software developer spends three to five hours a day reading code. Whether it’s their own, from a framework, or as part of a collaborative project, it’s critical to write code following standard conventions and best practices.
For professionals just starting their software development careers, it’s essential to adopt good coding habits, principles, and processes to create clean, efficient, professional code. Following software development, best practices will manage and organize your development process for effective collaboration with other developers.
We’ll list some essential coding conventions, tools, and processes to ensure your code follows standard professional practices, making it easier for others to read and collaborate.
Benefits of Adopting Software Development Best Practices
Whether you’re writing a personal program or working on a larger application with a team of developers, you should always follow software development best practices. By adopting professional software development practices, your projects will have the following:
- Efficient Code
- Improved Readability and Navigation of Code
- Improved Code Structure
- Professional Style
- Compliance with Use Version Control Tools
Software Development Popular Principles
A few popular principles that software developers live by are:
- YAGNI: An acronym for You Aren’t Gonna Need It. This principle stresses the importance of editing and eliminating unnecessary code or components.
- KISS: The simple acronym for Keep it Simple, Stupid. Code should be concise, efficient, and meaningful. Don’t add anything unnecessarily.
- DRY: An acronym for Don’t Repeat Yourself. Eliminate redundancies and repetition. If you’ve written the same code more than three times, create a function for it.
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Best Practices for Software Development
Here are some of the most critical best practices software developers should follow:
Define Clear Requirements
Before you begin coding, you or your team should create a software requirements specification document (SRSD) to ensure the program or application meets design goals, requirements, and processes. The SRSD should include the following:
- Design characteristics
- Design diagrams
Write Unit Tests Before Coding
Another excellent habit to adopt before you begin coding is to write unit tests. This protects your software from vulnerabilities and bugs. Writing unit tests also forces you to think through the application functions before you code them.
Utilize an Application Framework
An application framework allows developers to leverage a large collection of software components that can be used to create software without having to write the code from scratch. The framework makes coding easier and more efficient but also eliminates coding tedious, common tasks like file format conversions.
Document Your Code and Design for Collaboration
By annotating and commenting on your code, other developers can easily navigate and identify each function, program, etc. You should also comment on any design decisions to help others understand why you coded the software in a specific way. Clearly commenting on your code will increase readability, improve safety for debugging, and facilitate changes where necessary.
Use Consistent Formatting that Adheres to Coding Standards
Following appropriate naming conventions and coding formats for functions, methods, and variables makes it easier for other developers to decipher and read your code. It also helps during the debugging process.
Follow SOLID Design Principles
SOLID consists of five design principles every software developer should follow:
- Each coding class should follow the Single Responsibility Principle (SRP).
- Don’t write Open/Closed Principle (OCP) code.
- Adhere to the Liskov Substitution Principle (LSP).
- Follows the Interface Segregation Principle (ISP).
- Ensures that modules and classes follow the Dependency Inversion Principle (DIP).
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Utilize an Issue Tracker
When testing your software, it’s smart to report bugs through issue-tracking software. It provides a clear reporting and management system for handling any software issues. When working on a team, an issue tracker is essential for managing bugs before they break other software components later in development.
Set up a Virtual Machine for Sandboxing
Having a virtual machine for development allows you to control the environment with specific dependencies. It enables the development team to test components safely on a host machine and document any dependencies needed for the software.
Implement Continuous Integration
Part of your development process should involve implementing continuous integration. This merges the code from all the developers into the main source. Integrating your software daily will keep project baselines updated and identify if any new integrations have broken the software. The team can then fix the bugs before continuing development.
Utilize a Version Control System
Another critical tool for software development collaboration is a version control system. Git is a powerful source code management system that organizes and maintains coding efficiency. GitHub is a web-based Git service that many developers leverage for open-source development.
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Sign Your Software with a Code Signing Certificate
It’s important to sign your software with a code signing certificate to authenticate that you and your team developed the software. Like other artists that sign their work, code signing protects your work from being copied or ripped off. Several code-signing certification technologies and tools can be used to sign your software code.
It’s Critical to Follow Software Development Best Practices
Adopting these habits, principles, and processes early in your development career will amplify your professionalism and collaboration with other developers. It will improve your coding, make it easier to resolve bugs, and keep your team on track for complicated projects.
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