Developing Maintainable Software Applications
When it comes to developing software, not only you have to consider creating the application, but also everything that comes with it. This can be from the actual design of the software to maintenance and updates. In this recent article, the author discussed some points related to maintaining software applications and the code base. It’s a topic I am quite passionate about, so I wanted to add a few things.
Most software developers would agree with the first point mentioned in the article; it is far more interesting to start a new project where you can implement your original ideas. But if you don't do things correct from the outset, the project life cycle can be very short. In the beginning, everything might look great, the application runs well, and immediate user requirements are met. But when new requirements like new features or improvement needs in performance arise, you notice that it takes a lot of effort to implement those because it requires many changes in the code. Fixing the issues at this point can be rather expensive, and costing valuable time.
I want to mention that no developer wants to make hard to maintain and costly to update applications on purpose. Sometimes it depends on developer's skills and experience, and sometimes the given deadlines are so tight that development team must complete tasks in the shortest time and are forced to do quick fixes and solutions. They implement the function, without considering the rest of it. That could lead to repeating the code everywhere, making the application difficult to maintain.
How should we then start a project and do it well? Of course, there are tools like Visual Studio that can help diagnose and debug code, but in my experience, it is crucial to keep growing your skills. Take some extra time to look back and improve your own code and do proper code reviews. You can do refactoring and also remember to follow coding standards and good style. It is actually not only about coding, but it's also about being well organized like putting right files in the right folders and indexing correctly. It is a continuous learning curve, and that’s why we provide trainings and encourage all our developers to expand their skills to be a full-stack developer.
Let's then talk about the development process. When starting a project, you should start with the architecture design. Like in any design work, consider first the main elements and then continue with the details. In software design I recommend starting with the foundation – you have to think about whether you need a cloud-based solution or is it just a small single application, then start with small increments making sure it is "plug and play" and not a monolith. The important points to consider that are more difficult to do afterward are for example reusable code, possibility to expand and integrations to other applications or platforms. Other essential is to always consider the business need and value, not get caught up in overdesigning. It is exciting to prove our latest technical skills but the features should add value to the product itself.
The last point in the article was code commenting. It's a frequently discussed topic in software development, and my take on it is; try to write code so that it doesn't need comments. If it's a very complex logic, then it might be necessary. But if the comment is longer than the code, that is surely a problem! Also, a simple piece of advice I often give to junior developers is that always clean your code. Don't leave unnecessary files or code strings because that will accumulate and eventually become very difficult to understand.
With these simple steps, every developer can ensure their code quality is up to the standards and the applications remain maintainable.
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