The noted software expert Robert C. Martin, in his book Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship, wrote, “Writing clean code is what you must do to call yourself a professional. There is no reasonable excuse for doing anything less than your best.”
Programming is undoubtedly cumbersome, especially during times of AI, intelligent computation, and test automation. Programmers not only need to learn languages and study algorithms but also need to tend to code complex working applications. Writing clean code is similar to activities like cooking or photography — it can appear easy but hardly is. Still, it is crucial due to the wide range of benefits offered.
A crucial feature of good software is clean code. Developers prefer to work on applications if the code is easy to understand and modify. Sometimes, the coding hastened to meet deadlines but eventually causes delay since more bugs need fixing. Studies have revealed that the time spent reading code compared to writing is higher than 10:1. Hence, the need for clean code arises.
What is a clean code?
The following are the characteristics of clean code:
- It must be readable.
- This must be elegant.
- They must be easy to understand and follow the Single Responsibility Principle (SRP).
- Clean Code must be easy to understand, easy to modify, and easy to maintain.
- Clean must run tests as per the test strategy.
In his book, Object-Oriented Analysis and Design with Applications, Brady Brooch defines clean code as “simple and direct. Clean code reads like well-written prose. Clean code never obscures the designer’s intent but rather is full of crisp abstractions and straightforward lines of control.”
The Importance of Writing Clean Code
There are several advantages to writing clean code. Some of them include the following:
- Solving problems becomes easy:
Clean codes change problem-solving radically. The software design and algorithms become more intentional and elegant, opposing obligatory and constrained solutions.
- Clear communication of ideas:
Clean code reduces the possibility of disputes and misunderstandings amongst a group of programmers working together, leading to fewer bugs at the end of the day.
- Less maintenance required:
Clean code is easier to read and understand, so less time is spent on deciphering the function of the segments and leaving more time for updates, revision, and extensions.
The Best Tips to Follow
After discussing the definition and importance of clean code, here are the top 10 tips for writing and implementing the best strategies.
Using descriptive names
The names of the functions and the variables should be as descriptive as possible. For example, to refer to the character and last name, variables name developer and lastNameDeveloper can be used instead of using name only. Just using n is even worse since it is tough to understand the components of the variable with that syntax.
The name of a function should always start with a verb. For example, a module that returns the developer’s name, getDeveloperName, can be used instead of a method that calls name.
Using empty lines to create readable code
The benefits of using empty lines are as follows:
- They add clarity to the code.
- An extra line identifies where the functions end effortlessly.
- Lines separate the declaration of the variable from the operation function.
- A line before the returned value helps understand the operation.
Not sending more than three parameters to a function
Using a cluster of parameters in a function makes it difficult to find where they are used. Instead, using only three parameters and following their logic inside the function is more efficient and makes the code legible.
If more than three parameters need to be used, one object is sent to the function, and the relevant keys are used.
The functions must perform only one task
Developers should avoid writing a function that does multiple things if they want to solve one problem. A module must perform one and only one task. Having two or more short functions is better than having just one complex method.
Functions must be short
If a complex function is required, using a class is more reliable. A method must do only one thing, as mentioned previously, and must be short.
Reducing the number of characters in a line
Keeping away from long lines of code makes it easier to read. The size of a line must fit on the screen so that a horizontal scroll is not required. Many tools like Prettier allow developers to control the format of their code.
The use of comments
Using comments helps to maintain the code. Although comments can be avoided by employing descriptive names for the functions and the variables, it is not recommended. Comments make the code lucid and coherent.
Creating descriptive messages for commits
A commit requires a descriptive message. It comes in handy to comprehend the function of the code in the future. Statements that do not provide sufficient information should be avoided.
Only writing messages like refactoring is not logical enough for developers. Statements like getting client information from CRM are appropriate.
Using unit tests and practicing test-driven development
Writing a unit test is a crucial step in development. It makes the code clean, flexible as well as maintainable. The process of modifying the code and reducing bugs becomes easy. Test-Driven Development (TDD) is a process in software development in which requirements are converted into specific test cases, followed by software improvements for passing new tests. According to Robert C. Martin, the three laws of TDD are as follows:
- A production code should make a failing unit test pass.
- A unit test should not be written as sufficient to fail, and compilation failures are failures.
- Only the production code that is sufficient to pass the one failing unit test should be written.
Learning Design Patterns
Design Patterns is an extensive field that provides, for example, the solutions discovered by experienced and noted developers for dealing with common problems in software.
Clean coding is a skill that requires extensive practice.
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