When it comes to software development, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Each project will require its unique approach, and each team has its software development process that works best for them. However, some common best practices can apply to every software project to solve common software development problems. Here are six of the top software development best practices you should try to incorporate into your next project:
Keep your code simple
The best way to keep your source code clean and simple is to be a minimalist in your approach. This means that you should try to only implement the features that are necessary for the program to function. If you find yourself adding extra features that aren’t needed, you may want to take a step back and remove them.
Also, make sure to keep your simple code readable. This means that it should be easy for someone else who is not familiar with the codebase, to understand what’s going on.
Lastly, be sure that every line of code has a purpose and not just filler text. Also, make sure to name variables descriptively so other people will know what they are being used for. You can also conduct a code review.
Don’t Repeat Yourself (DRY)
One of the biggest mistakes programmers make is to repeat the same code in different places. It increases the number of lines of code, making it harder to read, follow, maintain and debug. If you need to make a change to one piece of your code, you’ll have to make the same change multiple times. This can be a nightmare if you have a large application.
It’s always better to reuse already written code than write new code each time. Keep your code simple and DRY!
Don’t Repeat Yourself is a software development principle that says every piece of knowledge should have a single representation within an application. In other words, there should be one — and ideally, only one — place where an element is defined. The idea is that if we apply this principle throughout our code base, we’ll end up with more maintainable code quality that’s less prone to errors and changes.
Continuously test from end-to-end
More than ever, modern applications are complex and distributed systems that consist of multiple tiers, each running on its platform and infrastructure. To ensure everything is working properly together, you must test from end to end by using the actual services and components. For example, if your application uses a database, you must connect to the actual database to run tests against it.
It is not enough to write unit tests, you need to have fully integrated end-to-end testing of your software. This means pushing your code through the front end and back to the database. If you are building a website, it should behave like a real user is using it. Even if you are just building an API, it should be tested with a client application sending requests to it.
If you or your team wants to avoid writing code that delivers value, then I would fully support this practice. This also goes hand in hand with continuous deployment, as you will be able to quickly discover bugs and deploy fixes without anyone ever knowing about it. It is a win-win situation for everyone involved!
Carry out Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CI/CD)
Today’s agile development teams are deploying more frequently than ever before — sometimes multiple times a day — so they need to find ways to enable fast and smooth deployments at scale. The best way to do this is by carrying out continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD).
Continuously test from end to end. Do not wait for the code to be written to start testing.
Continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) are software engineering practices where developers regularly merge their code changes into a central repository, after which automated builds and tests are run.
CI/CD increases productivity reduces errors and improves quality. It also makes it easier for new developers to understand the project structure. This can be accomplished by showing them how the build works and how the tests are run, which is much easier than walking through all the source code line by line.
Use a Micro-services Architecture
In the list of software development best practices, the next is to use a micro-services architecture.
Microservices architecture is made up of small, independent services that communicate with one another through APIs or messaging protocols. Each service can be implemented in different programming languages, on different platforms, and by different teams within your organization — which makes for a more agile development environment that allows teams to focus on their areas of expertise rather than getting bogged down.
A microservice should be as small as possible and focused on a single task. The main point of microservice architecture is to have an application made up of single-function modules that can be easily developed, tested, and deployed in any order.
Micro-services will add more flexibility, scalability, and speed to your software development process. The micro-services approach is particularly useful for developing complex software projects that will require frequent changes over time.
In the fast-paced world of software development, it’s easy to forget those little details. But those small details are often important in the long run. One of the best practices for it is documentation.
For example, if you’re discussing a new feature with your software development team, write down what was discussed and what the outcome was. Documentation best practices include a couple of things:
1) You will have a written record of your requirements and expectations were, and
2) Everyone on your team will have an understanding of what everyone else is doing. No more assumptions or missed communications.
It’s also important to document things like how to build your application and how to deploy it. If a new software developer comes in and starts working on the project, you don’t want to lose productivity training them on how everything works. Write down what services need to be installed, what dependencies are required, how you write code and anything else that could be useful for someone new to the project.
Adhering to common software development best practices will help reduce unnecessary confusion and frustration as your team works on their project. Also, as you may have noticed in the list above, by following these software development best practices, your development team will be working more productively and efficiently.
Using these guidelines will allow software development projects to go more smoothly, which will save everyone involved extra time and confusion. As you can see there is no one-size-fits-all formula for software development. Every project brings its unique challenges for software developers, but the key to getting through these challenges successfully is preparing in advance with clear plans.