Clean code is “easy to understand and easy to change”, it’s about attention to detail.
But why should developers worry about code fitting that description if their programs seem to be getting the job done?
For developers whom producing clean code is a part of the way they operate, when it comes time to assemble complex software, it’s those developers who have the skills and the ability to overcome any hurdles. Complexity is manageable for them.
Working with a real-world application requires programmers to deal with large amounts of data, which means it’s essential to write well-structured, quality code.
If a team of developers truly care about what they’re doing and they take pride in their work, then writing clean code is naturally one of those things that are important to them.
What happens when we simply don’t care enough?
It’s costly — in more ways than one.
Consider this, a company has a product they are rushing to market. Due to time constraints, the code created is a disaster, but hey, we can always go back later and clean it up, right? Wrong.
Later never actually comes. More and more features are implemented and the code just continues to get worse until it reaches a point where it’s no longer controllable. This leaves very few options, one — reconstruct the entire code system, or two — go out of business.
Bad code may allow you to deploy faster but the long term effects are simply not worth it. Within a year or so, those teams that seem to progress rather quickly will hit a point where they’re forced to slow down. Why? Because adding new changes to the system breaks other parts of it and this becomes an ongoing cycle.
Every adjustment requires massive work because understanding and detangling the mess that was once implemented is a nightmare. As a result, more disastrous code gets incorporated until it’s impossible to even work with. Unfortunately, at this stage, productivity is at an all-time low and the team is no longer able to move forward.
Don’t be that team. These situations are avoidable.
Getting things done the right way from the very beginning not only saves a ton of money down the road but it’s also critical for professional survival, you can’t progress in an environment that is rooted off bad practices.
Bad programming affects you, your entire team, and its consumers.
On another note, clean code speaks for you — it shows a level of professionalism and responsibility. When people don’t have a face or story associated with you, your code is left to represent you. It’s like having a messy desk and being absent, the people observing the desk will have no choice but to make their own assumptions about you. Therefore, we should make it a habit to write clean code, regardless of how small or insignificant the task is. It’s also beneficial for us because habits ultimately shape who we are.
Here are a few pointers that promote clean code:
- Meaningful variable names — using intention-revealing names
- Functions that don’t have more than three arguments and functions that only do one thing and do it well
- Comments that never explain what the code is doing but rather explain why
- Formatting code — using proper indentation and proper scope usage
- Writing code that solves the actual problem and not just pass tests (because in the future, if there’s a bug, it’ll be difficult to spot and deal with)
Writing clean code definitely requires more than just merely understanding these principles, it takes lots of practice. However, the more you practice, the better you’ll get and the greater the chances of having these concepts engrained in you, becoming a part of the way you normally program.
If you want to build amazing products and succeed as a team, clean code is key.
Take pride in your code…your future self and entire development team will thank you.