Software Development: Top 16 Tips To Write Clean Code

Clean code is a reader-centric development style that produces software that is easy to write, read, and maintain. Knowing how to produce clean code is an important skill for software developers. You may often be tempted to consider your work complete when the application works as expected. But we don't just write code for computer consumption.

Clean code is all about realizing that your audience isn't just computers, they're real-live human! With this principle in mind, let's look at why clean code is important and dive into some tips and tricks when it comes to how we can do it in practice.

1. Use A Proven CI/CD Tool

Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) is a set of ideas, processes, and capabilities that enable software changes to be delivered to users in a timely, repeatable, and secure manner, introducing automation into software development processes.

Don't complicate it. Leverage powerful continuous integration and continuous delivery tools that check your code against best practices and scan for vulnerabilities. Make sure all high-priority issues are resolved before pushing them to production.

2. Document common coding practices

Extension developers and maintainers should document their shared coding habits and routines. Treating coding habits as "common knowledge" leads to frustration, skew, and long review times. Documenting this type of knowledge in an easily accessible location where everyone can see and refer to it is the best way to solidify it.

3. Conduct Weekly Code Reviews

Code review allows team members to share their knowledge without working at the same time. Your developers can balance their free time and ask for help when they need it while respecting everyone's time zone. Incorporating weekly code reviews into team exercises teaches developers consistency, pride in the quality of their work, and empathy for other developers who will utilize their outputs, as well as for their future code reviewers.

4. Leverage Low-Code Platforms For Low-Level Coding

Rushed coding can lead to sloppy code, even from developers with good habits. Replace low-level coding with low-code development. The low-code platform eliminates the need to build frameworks, link databases, and perform other tasks that are normally part of traditional development. Financial services companies are increasingly embracing low-code platforms for cost-effective rapid application development.

Investigate which areas of a project can be referenced in low code; user interfaces, API creation, and platform integrations are easier and faster to implement through low-code platforms, allowing developers to focus on getting the little details right while coding what matters most.

5. Follow A Multistep Process

There are several steps that developers can take to write cleaner code. First, they should comment on their code to explain what they are doing and why. Second, they should use consistent coding conventions and style guides. Third, they should regularly refactor their code to keep it clean and maintainable. Finally, they should test their code to make sure it works as expected.

6. Embrace DevOps And Structure Three-Week Sprints

Embrace the meaning of DevOps and implement a rigorous continuous integration and development process. This is a way to over-invest in documentation to eliminate confusion for developers and QA engineers. Developing the sprint structure in three weeks, not two weeks, cadences. Use the third week to perform quality checks, stress tests and debugging. These are key elements in creating quality code.

7. Manage Morale, Not Metrics

The metrics look good, but the morale is terrible. For truly valuable software built by effective engineering teams, managers should instead manage morale, developer satisfaction, and team focus, and then trust them to drive performance, quality, and a culture where everyone can thrive.

Bad code is the worst. You can mostly avoid this by focusing on team member morale management rather than metrics and delivery times. The reason for bad code is that you are moving too fast or hiring a team of hackers, not engineers. Give your company the independence to use quality-oriented methods such as Test Driven Development.

8. Adopt ‘Shift Left’ Principles

The principle of Shift Left is to take a task that is traditionally done at a later stage in the process and perform that task at earlier stages. Incorporate security early in the development cycle using "shift left" principles that include continuous code testing for vulnerabilities and bugs. DevSecOps tools that integrate with CI/CD processes and developer-preferred development interfaces should be used (integrated development environment). This enables them to detect and correct errors earlier before they become more costly and take longer to fix.

9. Experiment With Pairing And Mobbing

To improve code quality, I recommend experimenting with two methods: pairing and mobbing. Pairing is when one developer is on the keyboard while another is providing overall direction—and then they switch. It is especially advantageous to pair an experienced developer with a less experienced developer. Mob programming is a grassroots movement that has yet to gain the industry attention it deserves, owing in part to its unconventional nature. It's easy to see why some software engineers and businesses might be hesitant to try mob programming, and it's even easier to predict the questions they'll have.

10. Treat Code As A Piece Of Art

Write your code as if it were a work of art. It's functional, beautiful, and emblazoned with your signature. Create code that you are proud to show the rest of the world. And, before you do anything, test it and make sure it works.

11. Assign A Code Owner

Code Owners define who develops and maintains a feature, and own the resulting files or directories in a repository.

- The users you define as owners of the code are visible in the UI when browsing directories.
- You can set up merge requests to require code owner approval before merging.
- You can secure a branch and allow only code owners to approve changes to the branch.

Designate one person as the owner of the project code. If multiple developers are working on the software development project, ask the code owner to do the code review. If no one is responsible for the code, that's pretty much a guarantee that the code will be short-lived. If you have a code owner, you will likely have much better project code quality.

12. Move away from a culture that values speed over quality

Mistakes will happen, but organizations need to move away from a culture that ignores quality in favour of speed. Using DevOps and DevSecOps techniques to integrate quality and security throughout the software development lifecycle will deliver higher quality code, detect vulnerabilities earlier, and launch more efficient applications and APIs through automation and improved compliance monitoring.

13. Ensure Your Developers Have Enough Time For Careful Coding

Giving technology teams a common space to learn, making it easier for them to spend valuable time doing valuable work, and accelerating their workflows through customization and automation has never been more important, not just for developers, but for the entire enterprise.

As you hold meeting after meeting, the time allotted for programming becomes shorter and shorter. When developers have less than two hours between meetings to fully focus on coding, they tend to lose focus and deliver sloppy code. The solution is to organize your working days so that you have enough time to deliver quality code.

14. Read Code From Developers You Admire

It is not enough to simply learn a programming language and some tools if you want to be a good developer. You should also read the quality code of other programmers' programs. Reading other people’s code will boost your confidence. Developers must channel the knowledge gained from reading others' code when into writing their own code in terms of code quality, style, comments, coding conventions, and test cases. This will assist developers in writing cleaner, more efficient code.

15. Consider How Others Will Read Your Code

Think about what you write and how each piece of code can be read and used by others. Write code that is easy to read and maintain. Keep your code DRY (don't repeat yourself) and avoid spaghetti code by keeping your code as modular as possible. Keep functions and code blocks as small as possible.

16. Collaborate With Mentors On Challenges

Take your time and create the best code possible. It's also good to find mentors to work with when having challenges. By holding weekly or regular mentoring sessions, you can regularly share your struggles and remove your obstacles. With long-term mentorships, mentors can better understand your past experiences, track your progress, and adapt your sessions as you grow. Also, you want someone to hold you accountable for your learning process. It motivates you to keep going, knowing that someone has your back and supports your success.