Software Engineering Practices

Software Engineering Practices

Software engineering practices have evolved with time. Why wouldn’t that be? The software industry has witnessed quite an exponential rise lately. With new products entering the market every other day, the rise of this industry will continue for the next several years. Ever wondered why did this happen?

It all began when businesses decided to break free from conventional brick-and-mortar practices. They embraced digitizing to keep up with their competitors. And, what’s the best approach to digitizing? Get software that works!  

Native apps were among the most prominent trends this year. The prominence had much to do with the pandemic since businesses were switching to coordinating with their customers over minimal physical contact. Even with the pandemic settled down, the need for native apps would continue. Looks like software developers would stay busy for a very long time.

Software Engineering Practices: What to Keep in Mind?

The overall process of software development is as daunting as it seems. Owing to their skills, software engineers approach a certain project in their own way. What unites all software engineers are certain practices and principles. Abiding by these practices and principles makes the process of software development significantly smoother.  

Of course, we’ll take you through software engineering practices. But first, let’s take a look at how software engineering principles fulfill their purpose.

Software Engineering Principles

Just like defining relevant KPIs lay the foundation of a robust hybrid team model, software engineering principles don’t stray too far. The principles consist of a vast collection of approaches, practices, philosophies, and styles recommended by expert software developers. These principles function as a yardstick to ensure that the final software checks all the boxes.

Sticking with Software Engineering Principles: The Pros

  • Software development teams can avoid errors.
  • The complex process of software development becomes effortless.
  • Software engineers can reach deadlines quickly and efficiently.
  • The product development phase ensures high-quality deliverables, within the allocated budget.
  • Most importantly, team members would be fully aware of the overall software development process. Moreover, they would know how much each of the members contributed.

Software Engineering Principles: The Crux of the Matter

KISS (Keep It Simple, Silly)

This acronym sheds light on the importance of simplicity in the process of software development. Codes going in the software should be simple. Overcomplicating the coding structure results in troubled debugging and maintenance. Plus, if your code ends up with other developers, it would take them forever to figure out the underlying logic. Therefore, to make it easier for fellow engineers to understand your code, never forget to Keep It Simple, Silly!

Best practices within the K.I.S.S. principle ensure:

  • All methods are concise.
  • There is a separate document for crucial methods.
  • Each method is addressing one problem at a time.
  • Instead of delving into deep nesting, branching, and complex class structures, opt for simpler problem-solving constructions.

DRY (Don’t Repeat Yourself)

DRY emphasizes not repeating the same thing in the code, in multiple places. No shade on some software developers, but they tend to copy-paste the same code multiple times. Of course, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with reusing your code. However, you need to be mindful that your code’s overall sync isn’t being compromised.

Best practices within the D.R.Y. principle ensure:

  • Your code stays free of duplicated lines, and errors.
  • There’s a separate function or a method for recurring code.
  • The code becomes error-free, expandable, and reusable in the future.

YAGNI (You Aren’t Gonna Need It)

This principle keeps software engineers from including functionalities in their code unless it’s needed. The baseline of this principle is that don’t try to solve problems that haven’t even surfaced yet. Once again, no shade on software engineers, but a handful of them do try to implement unnecessary and useless functionalities in their code, rendering it unnecessarily complicated.

Moreover, not sticking with the YAGNI principle may result in a messy code. Best practices within the YAGNI principle ensure:

  • No amount of unnecessary, ‘dead’ code makes its way into the code work.
  • New functionalities go in only when there’s a need for them.
  • When there are no unnecessary codes to comprehend, engineers save up a lot of time and effort from going in vain.

BDUF (Big Design Upfront)

This principle is big on the prerequisites of coding. BDUF encourages software engineers to design the project first: create flow charts and stuff. Then move on to its implementation.

Designing with all the intricacies in mind enables software engineers to uncover issues that coding alone fails to highlight. With issues uncovered, developers can alter the software requirements and make it free from potential errors right from the get-go. Long story short, BDUF truly deserves all the high priority before coding.

SOLID

SOLID consists of an array of object-oriented design principles. Allow us to elaborate:

S stands for SRP (Single Responsibility Principle)

In this principle, a class, service, module, or function must serve a single responsibility. This approach makes it fairly easier to comprehend, maintain and make modifications to existing code. Moreover, SRP keeps the code well-organized, easily readable, and expandable.

O stands for OCP (Open Closed Principle)

This principle encourages software engineers to design functions, classes, and modules in a way that they remain open for extension and closed for alterations. Engineers can add new functionalities via composition and inheritance, without affecting the existing code.

L stands for LSP (Liskov Substitution Principle)

In this principle, derived classes should be replaceable for base classes without affecting the accuracy of the code. To ensure better implication of LSP, software engineers may perform inheritance. However, before doing so, they must be mindful of the pre and post-effects of inheritance within the class.

I stands for ISP (Interface Segregation Principle)

This principle enables users to have multiple smaller interfaces rather than a handful of big ones. A concise and focused interface would serve the purpose quite well. Relative to large ones, laced with several difficult-to-maintain behaviors. Software engineers can make smaller interfaces via composition and decoupling.

D stands for DIP (Dependency Inversion Principle)

This principle frees software engineers of tight coupling modules. The best way to understand DIP is by breaking it into two parts:

  • A high-level module must remain independent of a low-level module. However, both modules should rely on abstractions.
  • Abstraction should not depend on details. However, details should entirely depend on abstraction. Why is that? Well, abstractions are stable. It enables you to modify the behavior of your code. Whichever way you want your code to function in the future depends on this factor.

Occam’s Razor

This principle emphasizes keeping the code as far from added complexities as possible. To understand it better, here’s how this principle interprets. Refrain from creating additional entities unless necessary. And, before you do end up adding entities, make sure to consider the underlying benefits. Try to keep your code simple. Because that way it’ll be easier to develop, run and maintain.

Law of Demeter

As per this law, an object should be completely oblivious to another object. This promotes loose coupling. As opposed to tight coupling, loose coupling makes it easier to modify the software components. Subsequently, with this principle, the expansion of the code, its maintenance, and testing becomes remarkably easier.  

Looks like we’ve equipped ourselves with the principles that make the job of software engineers a lot more convenient. Now, let’s move on to software engineering practices that make the process of software development remarkably effortless.

Software Engineering Practices

Better Code Readability

Write a comprehensible and optimized code. You could also create complex libraries that make understanding such codes easier for another engineer. Though this may seem like an additional effort at the time. But, it’s going to be worthwhile, especially during the debugging process.

Modular and clean codes seem professional for their crisp logic and structure. As per the current standard, a clean code is easy to organize, and reuse. Moreover, it packs a lot of efficiencies. Another way to enhance your code’s readability is by proofreading it for potential errors.  

Focus on Efficiency

Before you’re about to hack away at your keyboard, don’t forget about the functionality of your code. You may spend hours and days producing a lengthy code. But, if its function is slow or unstable then there’s no use doing that. Sometimes, a short and concise code can hit the mark and be more efficient. Therefore, always seek functionality and performance over the length of your code.

Shorten/Refactor Code

Sometimes, you may come across an urge to make your code seem more concise and straightforward. In such a situation, refactoring can do the job quickly and easily. For instance, you have written a hefty code and you want other collaborators to understand it easily. This is where refactoring helps as others can change the function of your code when needed.

Most high-quality programs and applications are built on refactored codes. This step usually speeds up the development time and streamlines the effort at the developer’s end.

Let the World Know How Professional You Are!

To enhance your coding style, it all begins with the mindset. You can develop or enhance your professional coding style by reading codes and other relevant material easily available online.

Most expert coders develop software in a way that is universal and easy to work with by multiple users. This may take additional time but the principle is effective. Along with this principle, be sure to add descriptive names for functions and variables, implement modularity, and avoid excessive indentation.

Use Version Code Framework

A version code framework tracks changes and keeps them coordinated with the main file on the server. Using version control proves beneficial in plenty of ways: creating code backups, collaborating with other developers, and restoration of the code in case of bugs.

Runs Tests to Ensure Quality

Do you ever wonder how experts distinguish between good and bad coding practices? They consider the following factors:

  • Reliability – By keeping potential defects minimal and sustaining the probability of that system.
  • Maintainability – Is the software easy to maintain in terms of codebase, structure, consistency, and size?
  • Testability – The amount of control a user has over the software in terms of observability, isolation, and automation. This includes methods of code level such as cyclomatic complexity.
  • Portability – The usability of the software in various environments and platforms.
  • Reusability – This measures existing assets that are reusable in terms of modularity.
  • Defect Metrics – This help quantify the severity of potential defects.

Moreover, to test the integrity of your code, place a bug in there to deliberately make it fail. Albeit this approach sounds scary and confusing at the same time. However, unless your code fails, it wouldn’t really pass the behavior test.

Software Engineering Practices to Avoid at All Costs

Now that we’ve familiarized ourselves with the practices software engineers should abide by, let’s look at the other side of the story. Is there anything that software engineers should try to avoid? Well, you’re in luck! We’re about to delve into practices that software engineers should avoid if they want their codes to succeed.  

Typos

It’s common for developers to have typos in their code, but that doesn’t reflect their skills. Typos are hard to detect. They hide in the code remarkably well, rendering the testing process agonizingly chaotic.

An integrated development environment (IDE) or a text editor for programmers can significantly reduce typos. Some of these text editors have auto-complete functions for common code. This feature saves developers the hassle of misspelling code functions.

Ignoring Design

For most software engineers designing is an added step. Skipping it may ultimately lead to disappointed clients and more re-dos in the coding. Moreover, your client would ask for design changes that may over-complicate the code you initially had in mind.

Even if you’re short on time, get some templates and tweak them to reduce developmental time. You can always go back to make minor adjustments later on.

Not Keeping Up With the Tech Evolution

Developers and software engineers that fail to stay ahead of the latest trends and practices, may end up employing outdated procedures. For instance, these days tech teams are all about following the hybrid team model. All in all, if software engineers don’t stay relevant to the tech evolution, they may end up losing customers.

Lack of Automation

As the world moves towards improved productivity, automation stands unbeatable. Automation boosts productivity. It enables employees to focus on things that matter, rather than carrying out mundane tasks.

According to Reader Elsevier, software testing takes up 40%-50% of total resources. This result in about 50% to 60% of the total cost spent on the entire software project. Therefore, software engineering firms can save substantially on the project by automating most or all processes.

Lack of Project Planning

Meticulous project planning enables stakeholders to participate, and provide their feedback pertaining to the project along the way. Ignoring this practice is likely to result in a project headed in a completely unplanned direction. Sometimes, you may incur unnecessary budget spikes. While sometimes, your software might fail to target the problem it was supposed to be addressing.

With project planning, getting the right insights related to the target audience becomes inevitable. Plus, it enables you to be fully aware of what your software is supposed to do, along with how it satisfies the customer’s pain points.

Lack of Details in Documentation

Eliminating ambiguities while understanding the software requirements is the key to working efficiently. Without a proper Software Specification document, there are high chances of misinterpretation, ultimately increasing your development cost.

Additionally, a lack of detailed documentation may pose the following problems:

  • Software missing its ultimate goal.
  • Lack of coherence between UX design and target audience.
  • Inclusion of unnecessary features.
  • Missing essential features.
  • The software has a lower business value than estimated.

Lack of Security Encryption

Most developers are well-equipped with security protocols and coding standards to decrease vulnerabilities. Some of these mistakes may cause critical issues, leading to a major breach of data in the future. Therefore, it’s important to understand that installing the latest patches and security updates is a necessary step to ensure data safety.

Failing to Test Early

Hands down, one of the best software engineering practices is ensuring that your code has been tested enough. Early testing of the source code can influence your final programming decisions. If errors in your code aren’t picked up on time. They would cause bottlenecks in the upcoming phases. Enabling an added quality control step is the key role player over here.

Even if you’ve outsourced your software project. It’s always a good idea to ensure that your software development team has a quality control practice underway. Stay in touch with your development team throughout the development process, and detect the error beforehand.

Adding More People to ‘Save Time’

Sometimes, having the right team is better than having a huge team. Unfortunately, most software developers end up adding multiple people to a project to quicken the delivery time. However, a lack of collaborative skills and having too many hands stirring the pot affects overall productivity and increases the chances for errors.

If you’re running late on a project, resort to multitasking. If multitasking isn’t cutting the deal, then ask your client for an extension. It’s better to take your time and deliver your best, instead of throwing together an app haphazardly.

Lack of Team Building

Scrutinizing employees individually wouldn’t only strip your team of synergy. It would also lead to a toxic work environment. Stick with a ‘We Can/We Would’ attitude, rather than pinpointing your developers and crushing their spirits. This practice helps build the right rapport to share business knowledge, technical expertise, and industry experience.

Software Engineering Practices: In a Nutshell

Understanding the ideal software engineering practices. And refraining from what NOT to do is essential to grow and thrive. We’ve done our part by jotting down the ideal software engineering practices and principles, along with things to avoid. Now, it’s your turn to keep your software engineers happy at what they do.

Additionally, make sure that you’re attending the right conferences, workshops, and online courses to stay ahead of the curve. Never hesitate to engage with professionals that pose similar interests as your own.

If you think we’ve missed an important factor or a couple of software engineering practices that the world needs to know. Then feel free to share valuable insights in the comment section below.


 

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