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July 22, 2020
The Definitive Guide to Clean Code

Clean code is vital in every aspect of software development as well as mobile app development. A code that’s clean means it’s easy to understand and to change. Writing clean code is paramount in creating a successful and maintainable product. What is clean is, of course, subject to every developer’s take. Here is the definitive guide to clean code.

There are many considerations when it comes to what constitutes a clean code as well as the best coding practices. Nonetheless, there’s no particular distinction. Again, it is subjective to what a developer considers clean, based on the product being built.

Why Clean Code?

Clean code is important to care since code almost is never written only once and forgotten. Most of the time, you and others have to work on the code. Understanding of the code leads to work efficiency. The code is not only intended for computers but humans as well. Writing clean code means minimizing maintenance expenses. 

Furthermore, it means making it much easier when fixing bugs as well as working on code for many years a lot more enjoyable. In essence, clean code means making life easier for those involved in the project. However, it doesn’t mean being obsessed with clean code. It has to provide value, thus do not spend countless to make it perfect. 

Anyway, clean code doesn’t occur on the first try. The key is adopting a mindset that always strives to enhance the code that you work on. Clean code is paramount since it makes or breaks a project. 

Guide to Clean Code Characteristics

1. It should be elegant. It has to be pleasing to read, making a reader smile in such a way that a well-crafted music box would or even a well-designed car. 

2. It is focused. Every module, class, and function exposes a one-minded attitude that’s free from distraction and pollution by surrounding details.

3. It’s taken care of. Someone took the time to keep it orderly and simple. Moreover, they have paid close attention to details, meaning that they cared. 

4. It doesn’t have duplication.

5. Runs all tests.

6. Minimize entities like methods, classes, functions, and others. 

Writing Clean Code

Clean code follows and embraces specific practices. The practices are what make code readable, more comprehensible, cleaner, and simple. Implementing some of the following could bring positive results. 

  • Make readable code. Never neglect its comprehensibility and readability.
  • Utilize meaningful names for variables, methods, and functions 
  • Review the code regularly.
  • Allow one method or function to perform just one task. 
  • Use comments for clarification.
  • Be consistent.

1. Make readable code. It’s always a possibility that another would get your code or else if you’re working in the same software development company then you can re-use the code. It is of the best interest of all to write code in such a way that makes it easy to read as well as understand. Using whitespace is the easiest way. It isn’t a must to write code that looks minified. Rather, use line breaks, empty lines, and indentation to make the code structure more readable.

2. Utilize meaningful names for variables, methods, and functions. Meaningful means names that are descriptive enough that others would be able to comprehend the purpose of the function, method, or variable. In simple terms, the name itself should suggest the method, function, or variable is used or what it carries. Nevertheless, descriptive names do not mean you’re free to use as many characters as you wish. Rule of thumb would be limiting names to three or four words.

3. Review the code regularly. Simply writing code is not enough. The next step would be to maintain its cleanliness. Review it regularly, clean it, and try improving it. Otherwise, it would become outdated. The same as with the device, to keep them in the best shape requires regular updates.

4. Allow one method or function to perform just one task. Let every method or function do just one task. This may be simple but could change everything and help you write clean code, or at least something cleaner than before. Moreover, functionalities and methods also become predictable.

5. Use comments for clarification. Regardless of how you struggle to come up with meaningful methods, variables, or functions, on its own, the code still would not be clean and understandable as it should be. There would be lines that require elaboration. Using comments via the code helps to fix this. Comments explain to other people why you are writing them and the reason why it’s written in that manner. This way, people would not have to make a guess. Comments should be used only when necessary and not for explaining bad code. Writing endless comments won’t help transform a code that’s poorly written into clean code. A bad code should be fixed by improving it, not adding instructions on how to use it. 

6. Be consistent. Stick to specific coding styles or practices and use it everywhere. It’s not a good idea to use different styles or practices in another project. It’s not as smooth and natural as it could be getting back to old code. Select coding practices set and stick to them in all projects. It would be much easier to return to an older code and proceed where you left off or to improve code. It’s a good idea to experiment on new coding practices. Furthermore, it could help look for better ways to do work. Nonetheless, it would be preferable to experiment with different practices on a separate project or exercise instead of on the main project.

Why Strive for Clean Code

Clean code is easy to understand and readable by everyone. Writing clean code is a critical mindset and it takes practice. Nobody is perfect, including you. There is always an opportunity to refactor or improve code when you review it after a few days or a few weeks. Therefore, begin writing a clean code as you can from the first line to work more on improving performance and logic. 

Pros

1. Better use of time. The first recipient of clean code is, of course, the programmer. Working on a project for months sometimes makes it easy to forget what you’ve done with the code. This is particularly true when a client comes back with changes. Making changes is easier with clean code lines. 

2. Easy debugging. Bugs are inevitable whether you write clean or dirty code. Clean code, however, makes for faster debugging, whatever your expertise or experience may be. Managers or colleagues could help and jump in to help you. 

3. Easier for new members of the team to get on board. Principles of clean code help to get onboard a new programmer. It helps to get a new programmer on board with clean code. No documentation is required to understand the code and a newbie could jump directly into it. This saves time on training and for a new member to adjust to the project. 

4. Much efficient maintenance. Maintenance doesn’t mean fixing bugs. Any project would need changes, new features to existing ones. In any software project, maintenance is the major cost. New features or additional ones always are an afterthought. Clean code makes fast and easy maintenance. 

5. Feel good. Clean code makes you feel good and confident to share it with others or with a client. You need not fear of breakdown and you would also be able to fix defects faster and this means you get to enjoy programming more. 

6. Easier to solve problems. The approach to problem-solving changes when writing clean code. Furthermore, software design and algorithm design become more intentional and elegant.

7. Communicated ideas. A clean code minimizes the change of misunderstandings when working with other developers and programmers. Furthermore, this also means lesser bugs to deal with in the future. 

Going Further with Clean Code

Majority of the basics in making clean code are common sense. Nonetheless, even with the most basic software, success requires paying attention and focusing on details. Products increasingly have more at stake than pride and money. In today’s age where we have autonomous vehicles on the road, the rules on code structuring and writing have gained relevance. Furthermore, more diligence should be applied to security-critical and safety systems. 

Industries like defense, automotive, aerospace, banking and finance, and medical device manufacture have stringent coding compliance standards. The code should meet industry standards. Source code could be scanned using static code analysis tools. Furthermore, the tools could also detect vulnerabilities in security, hidden defects, and ensure adherence to the best coding standards. 

Undoubtedly,  custom software development companies create products for their clients. Clients could do whatever they want with the software or product. They could use it internally or even sell it to somebody else. Most importantly however is that they could modify or extend it themselves. 

To be able to do this, they need a clean code. Thus, when building software, it is of utmost importance to deliver clean code at all times. Again, clean code truly matters. A clean and readable code enables continuity of the product. Furthermore, it makes it possible for another person to continue the work and enjoy doing so. The result is a lesser bug and easier to maintain software. 

Did you enjoy this guide to clean code? Is there anything else that a developer should consider?

About

Working as a manager in a software development company Tatvasoft.com. Vikash always has a passion to explore more about software  development and likes to share his bylines among relevant audiences. He is a full time blogger and you will find his informative bylines around many corners of blogs related to development. You can always find him on Twitter


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