Coding is the process of writing instructions for a computer to produce specific output. Just like learning proper English in school, it’s important for coders to follow coding standards and best practices to improve the quality, readability, and maintainability of their code. Here are five best practices to follow in your coding journey.
1: Add Comments to Your Code
Writing comments in your code is a simple and effective way to increase its readability. Comments are notes to yourself and others who may read your code, providing explanations for specific sections or actions. Comments can be written as single-line or multi-line, and different programming languages have different ways of writing them. For example, in HTML, comments look like this:
// Comment goes here, and multi-line comments are written like this:
/* Comment goes here */. Most text editors, such as Visual Studio, Atom, or Sublime, have a shortcut key for commenting, such as the command-slash key in Visual Studio.
2. Adhere to Best Practices and Guidelines
Just like learning grammar in English class sets a standard for proper speech and writing, coding best practices and guidelines set a standard for writing clear and maintainable code. Ignoring these standards can lead to a chaotic coding environment where it’s difficult to understand what’s been written. It’s important to follow the best practices and conventions specific to the programming language and project you’re working on. Many software companies have a coding standards document that outlines the guidelines for developers.
3: Follow Naming Conventions
4: Avoid Repetitive Code with the DRY Principle
The DRY (Don’t Repeat Yourself) principle encourages coders to avoid writing repetitive code that does the same thing. Efficient coders write code that is concise and accomplishes a lot with few lines. When I first started coding, before I learned loops, I created a game of rock, paper, scissors. Upon revisiting my code I was able to reduce 100 lines of code to a mere 12 lines. The reason was that I was repeating a lot of the code that could have been simplified with a loop.
6: Never Stop Learning!