Standardization has a positive impact on any business. In the Software Industry too, there are certain coding standards that are needed for a successful implementation of a program. For most of the organizations, the seamless functioning of software programs is essential for their growth.
It is seen that good quality software and code is not as easy as pie. It requires consistent efforts and sheer focus of the software development team to meet the quality goals. This is an essential thing for the software project. The developers are often seen side-stepping the quality standards when they are required to complete their tasks in a short span of time.
Let us brief you about the coding standards:
They are a series of procedures that can be defined for a particular programming language specifying a program style, the methods, & different procedures. These procedures can be for various aspects of the program written in that language. They can be considered as essential attributes of software development.
A coding standard makes sure that all the developers working on the project are following certain specified guidelines. The code can be easily understood and a proper consistency is maintained.
Consistency has a positive impact on the quality of the program and one should maintain it while coding. Also, it should be taken care that the guidelines are homogeneously followed across different levels of the system and they do not contradict each other. The finished program code should look like that it has been written by a single developer, in a single session.
Why coding standards are needed?
If the coding standards are not defined, developers could be using any of their own methods, which might lead to certain negative effects such as:
1. Security concerns
Software becomes vulnerable to attacks if it is inconsistent, contains bugs and errors in logic. Most of the aforementioned problems arise due to the faulty programming code that might have resulted from poor coding practices.
2. Issues related to site performance
Poor coding has an adverse effect on the performance of the site. The performance issues comprise of a multitude of things like when the user is interacting with the site, server response issues, reusability & flow of the code, etc.
When the coding standards are implemented, these problems can be easily overcome giving you a secure site with minimum or no performance issues.
While formulating a code, the following should be kept in mind
1. The code should be easy to be read. For this:
- Try to define different sections of the code by segmenting blocks of code into a paragraph.
- Make use of indentation for indicating the start and end of the control structures along with a clear specification of where the code is between them.
2. There should be consistency in the naming convention of the variables throughout the code. Also, the data should be described that is there in the code.
3. Name the functions according to what they perform.
4. The code should be such that one should be able to understand it even after returning to it after some time gap, without that person having look at every line of it.
5. Follow a specific method for commenting on the work.
6. The language functions that are complex or the structure that is difficult to be comprehended should be avoided.
There are many advantages of following coding standards while coding the software.
Advantages of Implementing Coding Standards
- Enhanced Efficiency:
It is often seen that the software developers spend a larger part of their time in solving those issues that could have been prevented. Implementing the coding standards would help the team to detect the problems early or even prevent them completely. This will increase the efficiency throughout the software process.
- Risk of project failure is reduced
Many times it happens that IT projects fail due to problems while developing software. Implementing the coding standards reduces many problems and the risk of project failures.
- Minimal Complexity
If a code is complex, there are higher chances of it being vulnerable to errors. Coding standards help in the development of software programs that are less complex and thereby reduce the errors.
- Easy to maintain
If the coding standards are followed, the code is consistent and can be easily maintained. This is because anyone can understand it and can modify it at any point in time.
- Bug rectification
It becomes really easy to locate and correct bugs in the software if the source code is written in a consistent manner.
- A comprehensive look
If the source code maintains consistency, a clear view of how code fits in the larger application or fits into the company as a whole.
- Cost efficient
A clear code gives the developers an opportunity to reuse the code whenever required. This can radically reduce the cost along with the efforts put in the development.
Let us explore some of the best practices that are used to write better codes:
Best practices to write proper codes
A. Code comments and proper documentation
It is a good practice to comment while writing code. It helps other developers to understand your code. With use of the Integrated Development Environment and other tools, commenting can be utilized in many different ways. It is advisable to start every method or routine with the comment specifying what a routine, method or a function does, about its various parameters, its return values, errors and exceptions (if any). Also, the role of each file and class, their contents and even the steps of complex codes should be summarized in the comments.
/* the below function will be used for the addition of two variables*/
//logic of the function
B. Use of Indentation
It is advisable to make use of indentation while writing the code. There is no particular style defined, but any style can be chosen for writing code. However, a consistent indentation style should be followed throughout the code.
<div style=”background-color: red”> <! –div start–>
<h2> A heading</h2>
<p> A paragraph.</p>
</div> <! — div end –>
C. Avoid commenting on obvious things
While following the standards, take care that you do not comment unnecessarily. Too much explanation will make your code look clumsy.
for ( int i=0; i<10; i++) //for loop starts here
// logic starts here
} //ending brace
D. Grouping code
It is better to group the tasks in different blocks/functions of code separating them with proper space. You can add a comment at the starting of every block.
/* this function will be used for the addition*/
// logic here
/*this function will be used for deletion
// logic here
E. Proper and consistent scheme for naming
The two popular naming conventions are
This can be used for naming where the first letter of each word is capitalized except for the first word.
/ try using the names that are relevant /
function addRecords($userName) // this name depicts that the records can be added with the help of this function
Name your function using an underscore between the words.
/ try to use relevant names/
function add_records ( $user_name) this name depicts that the records can be added with the help of this function
It is up to the choice of the developer which naming scheme to be used but it is very important to maintain the consistency of naming scheme throughout the code. CamelCase is used in Java while PHP uses underscore in naming convention.
F. Principle of DRY
While coding, the coders should remember the principle of DRY, which stands for Don’t Repeat Yourself, also known as DIE (duplication is evil). It is a good practice to write your own code and don’t copy. It is a known fact that most software programs aim at automating the repetitive tasks. Therefore, the code of the application should be such that the same code is not repeated over and over again.
G. Deep nesting structure should be avoided
Too many nesting structures make it difficult to understand the code. It is, therefore, advisable to avoid using deep nesting.
// logic here
H. Use short line length
Tall and narrow columns are easy to be read and seem comfortable to the eyes. It is therefore advised to use short line lengths, where ideal length could be 80 characters.
echo ‘Hello world’; echo ‘Welcome’; echo ‘Anything’;
The aforementioned is not the standardized way of coding.
Instead, the single line should be split into short line as below:
echo ‘Hello world’;
I. Proper organization of files and folder
It is possible to write whole code in a single file but there could be problems related to its readability and maintenance. It is, therefore, better to organize it into different folders.
J. OOPs vs. Procedural programming
It is up to the coders which type of programming style to choose. Using Object-oriented programming one is able to create well-structured codes while using procedural programming one is able to create functions that perform specific tasks independently.
K. Open source code readability
While working on open source projects, multiple developers give input in a single software. Therefore, it is good to maintain code readability, so that the team can work on it in an easy manner. It is also advantageous to go through the source code of these projects to get an idea about what the developers are doing.
L. Refactoring of code
This is done to enhance the readability of the code without modifying the basic functionality of the code.
It can be inferred from the blog post about the significance of implementing coding standards while developing a software application. If you have something more to say about the importance of coding standards in software development, your thoughts are most welcome in the comments below.