8 Tips for Writing Better Code

8 Tips for Writing Better Code

The ability to write clear and maintainable code is an essential skill for the programmer who works as part of a team or as a solo programmer.

Typically, when your code is complete, it gets passed on to another person - or people - for review and/or revision. Writing code in a way that is easy to read and comprehend makes that person's job much easier. It simplifies your own work, as well, since it’s easier and more enjoyable to work with code that is simple and clear.

This is all true, but clean and pragmatic code doesn't just happen on its own. A developer's work will be more effective if he or she learns about coding processes, which are disciplines that developers practice as they write code.

Here are some tips for improving your code-writing skills:

Plan - Before Beginning to Write Code

Planning every aspect of a project from start to finish helps in the creation of better organized and understandable. It’s also much easier to jump into a project when you know exactly how it should be structured. 

Keep Your Files Separated

Technically, you could write an entire application’s code within a single file. However, that would prove to be a nightmare to read and maintain. And as the applications grew, the functions file would expand along with them, until it also became huge and impossible to maintain. To prevent this, simply keep your files separated, rather than mixing them together. And always go for readability instead of tricks.

Don’t mix different languages such as HTML in PHP, CSS in one file. Divide your code into separate files in such a way that you avoid excessive HTML in PHP files – and vice versa.

Use Comments Properly

Outline with comments before you write your code, rather than adding all of the documentation at the end. You’ll avoid spending time trying to figure out tricky places or forgetting vital details.

Including what the code is doing as you create the code is another pitfall to be avoided. This should be left for the code to explain, and can be easily done by creating meaningful names for class, variable, and method.

Use Descriptive Names

Make your names for classes, variables, methods, functions, and so on, descriptive and unique. Give related features given similar names, but differentiate between those that are unrelated. And also remember to keep all names up-to-date. If functionality changes, update names.

Avoid Long Nesting

Revise your code to reduce levels of nesting. Too many levels make code harder to read and follow, so don’t have a while loop inside an if, inside an else, inside a for loop, inside an else if, inside a do/while loop, inside…well you see where we’re going with this.

Set Aside Time for Code Review

Code review is simply the act of having someone else look at your code to find mistakes you may have missed. This is easy: Have a fellow programmer look at the code, or find a website that you can use to review your code, and then decrease the number of defects it discovers. There are a number of sites that offer tools for code analysis that you can use to check your code for errors. 

Take Coding Challenges

The Internet is full of free resources that put out challenges for developers who wish to improve their skills in languages they use every day. Most sites come with a large community of peers who are more than willing to help out when needed. You have the option of presenting your coding issues to be solved, or helping others solve theirs.  

Read Code

Looking at other developers’ code can be a great way to learn something new. The code doesn’t necessarily need to be perfect in order for it to be useful; it only needs to be code that you’re unfamiliar with. Also, it need not be code that is necessarily in a language you know.

These are only a few basic tips to help you as you learn to write better and more readable code, regardless of what kind of developer you are. Most importantly:
Keep it simple and clear!

Good Luck and Happy Coding!