10 Software Development Best Practices Every Programmer Should Know

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10 Software Development Best Practices Every Programmer Should Know

Observing software development best practices is crucial when your project is the next version of an existing application that has thousands or millions of users. You may not be aware that most projects are written using outdated techniques, which will make your life difficult when they need to be maintained by someone else once you’ve moved on to other projects or roles.

Software development is a very broad subject. Complex software systems are the result of hundreds of people working together for months or even years on end. If you’re lucky, your software will do the job it was intended to carry out and nobody will notice any bugs.

However, sometimes software is developed in a way that doesn’t meet software development standards. For example, the product is released with bugs that could have been avoided simply by following software development best practices.

This article will cover such best practices so you know what to look out for when developing software yourself or working in a company where you can contribute to the development standards. Without further ado, here are the 10 software development best practices every programmer should know.

Who These Software Development Best Practices Are Written For

Before getting started with our journey to best software development practices, we have to address a question: Do you want to become a better programmer or you just want to develop software?

Following these best practices will probably help you write better code and avoid many of the most common pitfalls and mistakes. However, they may not be very interesting for someone who doesn’t intend to be a professional programmer. It may not even help much if you are just programming for fun instead of trying to become a software developer.

So, the simple answer is that this article is mainly intended for people who want to do one or more of the following:

  • Improve their coding skills in order to get better jobs,
  • Make more secure software to protect customers, or
  • Move up job ladders or make more money with what they are doing.

10 Best Software Development Best Practices

With this in mind, let’s dive into the 10 best software development practices you may (or may not) know.

1. Use an Application

One of the software development best practices every programmer should know is to use an application framework instead of developing software by hand. Application frameworks are collections of reusable software components put together to ease development. These frameworks provide much more than reusable components used to create software — they also include tools that eliminate the tedious tasks often required in development such as changing file formats or managing database changes.

You’ll save time if you use components, frameworks, and libraries because you will not have to write software to handle all of the tasks that are common to development. Using an application framework usually means that you can concentrate on writing code instead of spending hours on file format conversions, database management, or similar engineering activities.

Choose the Right Language and Framework

The languages, platforms, and architecture are things that are hard to modify later on. This is why you should be selective about what you use early on.

For example, you can produce a game in Python, but doing so will most likely restrict you considerably when compared to C#/Unity. However, changing it later may be likened to starting from scratch because of how large and interrelated the codebase is.

Being pragmatic about which language, framework, and platform to use upfront is important for your efficiency.

Furthermore, using an application framework will also minimize errors that you encounter later on. Frameworks provide a skeleton for your application, which you fill in with your own code. This can save you from having to write basic functionality from scratch and helps ensure compatibility across different platforms.

2. Start With Clearly Defined Requirements

While software development processes vary, every programmer should know certain software development best practices that will help you adhere to a process for consistent implementation.

One of the software development best practices is to have a software requirements specification document, or SRSD, which includes software requirements and design specifications. This software development best practices resource ensures that requirements are met and processes are followed.

The SRSD should also include software design specifications, which frequently detail requirements for document management and security, including:

  • Software design characteristics,
  • Design diagrams,
  • Decisions, and
  • Constraints

Without having to ask questions about what has to be done, a decent SRSD will allow you to figure out your project’s demands without having to explain them.

Bonus Tip for Remaining Consistent

Another software development best practice is to have all projects open and available for review at any time. This software development best practice will ensure that no software enters the release cycle without having been reviewed first. Such a development best practice ensures that there are no hidden software requirements or software design characteristics before they become a problem during software testing.

Other software development best practices include:

  • Having software code reviews,
  • Performing software testing, and
  • Creating software troubleshooting documentation.

Whenever software is developed without software development best practices in place, software bugs can remain undetected until it is too late. It’s really hard to trace back the origin of a bug when it’s clear that developers were not aware of software development best practices or did not adhere to software development best practices during the product’s development.

3. Make Your Code As Easy to Understand As Possible for Easy Collaboration

If you are the only software developer working on a software project, it might not be necessary for you to create software design documentation or software code comments. However, if there are other software developers working with you, or if you’re contracted for the project and will hand it off to others once it’s complete, one of the best software development practices is to document software design and software code.

Comments and annotations have been a part of software development for quite some time. Software developers all over the world use comments and annotations to describe programs that only they can comprehend unless they wrote comments on what needed to be done.

easy to understand code

(Testing is easy to neglect when you are a beginner, but you will see how important it is as your skills progress)

Comments are also used extensively for documenting software design decisions and software design goals. If you follow software development best practices to the letter, software developers sometimes have a tendency to forget why the software was developed in a specific way without software design documentation and software code comments.

Easy to Follow Comments with Complete Parameter and Return Information

Code commenting is much more than inserting explanations in software source code files. In fact, there are several other types of comments that play an important software development best practice role when software is developed.

There are software comments, preprocessor comments, and configuration files comments.

  • Software comments explain the different parts of a software program to other software developers who did not write a specific block of software code.
  • Preprocessor comments are used by compilers to do conditional programming.
  • Configuration file comments contain software settings-related information.

Commenting on code has been identified as one of the most important software development best practices by researchers who have studied successful software projects. If code does not have software design documentation and design comments, developers will spend a significant amount of time trying to figure out what the software is doing.

In design, design documentation is software code that has diagrams and documentation. Software documentation explains software architecture to software developers who didn’t write the software.

If you are developing software without software design documentation or software code comments, it’s likely all your software development best practices will be broken because there won’t be any way for anyone else to understand software code.

Understanding SOLID
  1. Write code that adheres to the Single Responsibility Principle (SRP).
    This principle states that each class should have a single purpose or responsibility. This helps reduce bugs by:
    • Simplifying the code,
    • Making testing easier, and
    • Allowing for more modularity (i.e., the ability to reuse and combine code)This principle states that each class should have a single purpose or responsibility. This helps reduce bugs by:
  2. Avoid writing code that follows the Open/Closed Principle (OCP).
    This principle states that “software entities (classes, modules, functions, etc.) should be open for extension, but closed for modification.” For example, something like a function should only add to existing functionality. If you need to change something about how it works, this can be achieved by adding another function instead of modifying the code in place.
  3. Write code that adheres to the Liskov Substitution Principle (LSP).
    This principle states that objects should not depend on methods or properties beyond their own definition. For example, a Rectangle class should not depend on the fact that its width is a certain number of pixels. It should be able to calculate the width based on its height. This helps make code more reusable and interchangeable.

Final Thoughts on the Best Software Development Practices

Adhering to software development best practices will help your team more efficiently, especially if you have a small team of software developers. As mentioned before, not all of these software development best practices are required for every situation — some may be overkill depending on the size and experience of your team.

However, no matter how experienced your team is, using software best practices will help you work more efficiently and increase the overall amount of time it takes to develop new versions of your code. Software development best practices can help your projects be more secure in that you are less likely to introduce bugs that could be exploited by hackers.

As you know, the primary purpose of software development best practices is to help you develop your code in a way that makes it easier to work with and modify in the future.