Standardization of code: The Need of the Hour!
When it comes down to it, coding is pretty much the same as any other language. There are certain rules to be followed so that the language nuances remain the same all over the planet. These rules are put into use so that any new learner of the language can easily familiarize with and comprehend it. When it comes to coding too, there are certain notions like readability of code and maintainable code. Simply put, it is when developers follow a recognizable pattern and establish a standard in coding. Like in the metaphor with languages, coding is also better off when certain ‘regulations’ are observed.
You know what is a developer’s worst nightmare? Inheriting an application that requires to be changed and spending elephant hours just to decipher it is. Unfortunately, this scenario is experienced by too many developers in their career. Trawling through pages and pages of code without clarity in its purpose or intentions is just about the most pointless thing you can do. However, looking through an unfamiliar code that is well laid out with neat comments detailing the complicated constructs and their reasoning would be a piece of cake compared to its alternate ordeal. Standardization of code aids not just developers, but the entire script users as well.
Coding standards become easier, the earlier you start. It is better to do a neat job than cleaning up after all is done. Every coder will have a unique pattern than he adheres to. Such a style might include the conventions he uses to name variables and functions ($userName, $username or $user_name for example), and how he comments his work. When the said pattern and style is standardized, it pays off the effort well in the long run. The inherent style is second nature to him and is evident in everything he creates. Thus the sooner it’s standardized, the better.
Implementing a coding standards document is the same as telling developers how they must write their code. Instead of each developer coding in their own preferred style, they will write all codes to the standards outlined in the document. This will pave way for the much desired consistency in coding. This necessitates that completed source code should reflect a harmonized style; as if a single developer wrote the code in one session. Not only does this solution make the code easier to understand, it also ensures that any developer who looks at the code will know what to expect throughout the entire application. The more readable source code is, the easier it is for someone to maintain that code. By following a consistent style, it allows other developers to step in and help with maintenance or new development.
Introducing a coding standard is a tricky thing to get right. Most developers would oppose the idea and tend to be defensive about their own individual coding styles. Compromising on the team’s preferences and incorporating elements of everyone’s style will go a long way in smaller organizations. Developers will likely adopt the style gradually, just as an accent develops over time.
The best days of standardization, so to speak, still lie ahead. More organizations are recognizing why implementing coding standards will save them money while increasing the efficiency and productivity. By creating source code that is easier for a developer to understand, it becomes easier to find and correct bugs. It also provides a better view of how that code fits within the larger application. This clearer view leads to the potential for more code reuse, which can have a dramatic affect on cost and development effort. They are no longer the over looked aspect but recognized as the critical attribute of software development. Having multiple developers familiar with one code base enables faster implementation and promotes collaboration on new project requirements.
The best applications are those that are coded properly. There is no overstating this fact for a proper code not only does its job well, but is also easy to add to, maintain and debug. As you develop coding standards, try to ensure that they allow anyone to work out the code in future! That said, happy coding!