Software Development And Testing: 30 Effective Professional Recommendations

16 Mar
2020
software developing

A good software development and testing process is key to ensuring a quality final product. There are no set rules on how to develop such a process, as every project is unique and requires a fair bit of flexibility. Here are a few general software development best practices that can be applied as and when needed to improve performance and results.

  1. Focus on coding what you need right now. Coding for future purposes works on predictions that may never come true, meaning wasted time and effort. The YAGNI principle also supports the removal of commenting-out code.
  2. Aim your testing at your code, not that of others. Focus on where it matters, including infrastructure and internal libraries. Leave out external structures like the browser and software developing tools.
  3. If you end up repeating the same piece of code three times, move it to the helper function. You will likely have an idea as to what problem it solves.
  4. For API design, keep it simple. Build on this when added options and additional API methods become needed.
  5. Data validation should be acted upon as soon as possible, and transferred to your database server. Without this check, it is possible to run into problems later without error messages appearing to explain what is going on.
  6. When carrying out unit tests, be sure to focus your changes on the implementation rather than the behavior or altering state. A test drive approach can help in writing smaller better code.
  7. When testing, full coverage of all code paths is a must. A failure to do this can often lead to costly mistakes. Making a maximum effort on this can help improve the quality of progress made during development.
  8. Less is more in coding. The more you write, the more mistakes that can arise. Avoid writing what you do not need and make liberal use of delete.
  9. Keep self-documenting. Code comments often end up no longer being updated and therefore become false. Adhere to good naming practices always.
  10. Adopt defensive programming. This is one of coding best practices that help protect code and keep it functioning even in adverse circumstances. Be very wary of any input and you will have less to debug.
  11. Testing logic is best done when code is stateless and not side effect filled. This can be accomplished by separating functions that will make testing easier and cheaper. Side effects need only testing once with just mocking out elsewhere.
  12. Objects should take precedence over complex data structures. And, the smaller the function, the better.
  13. If you are not writing in C, consider using Python’s built-in methods and types. They offer better performance and speed.
  14. While dependency injection can make API design more complicated, it does help to identify and clarify dependencies. It is one of the established software engineering principles that help keep a software design loosely coupled.
  15. Keep your testing units small. Even with the best coding software, too much code makes it more difficult to test behavior. Just ensure that the different units can work in a coordinated fashion.
  16. Making changes to API can create compatibility issues. So take care when developing external facing APIs. They should be kept as simple as possible.
  17. Keep the code for method and functions short. Anything more than 30 lines should be broken up. Module size should not exceed 500 lines.
  18. Avoid working in object constructors as they are difficult to test. They also often violate the principle of least surprise making software less user-friendly.
  19. Avoid excessive repetition in coding for production. In testing, this may not matter as much as they are performed to small units rather than to the entire system.
  20. Conduct code refactoring as needed. This will help make your code easy to understand and keep it functioning faster. It can also help with debugging and controlling technical debt.
  21. Focus on code that works correctly before looking to make it run quickly. During testing, you can gauge speed and stop software regression.
  22. When writing tests, ensure they are tightly focused. This will provide more useful information during fails that you can use to amend wrongs.
  23. Working on the specific code that will be used helps keep it simple. Adding superfluous dependencies and general use code can make for unnecessary complications.
  24. Too much of a good thing can be bad. There should be a consensus when it comes to design and implementation. This way there is less conflict when the review stage is reached.
  25. Make use of generators. They are great for iteration, keep implementation simple and not stressful on memory.
  26. Find the middle-ground in engineering. Do not make things too simple or too complex, rather focus on purpose-driven design with well-implemented systems.
  27. To prevent recurrently failing tests from messing the credibility of your test suite, either work on fixing or simply delete. This cleanup will keep others attuned to future test results.
  28. Voodoo programming is an affront to the best programming practices. They can lead to sleeping which is difficult to decipher and can slow down your testing.
  29. Creating a bug that will cause a fail is a good way to ensure you understand what you are testing. It is simple to write a test without realizing that it does not work. Setting up scenarios for failure, and getting a fail, will prove your test works.
  30. Development life cycles are getting shorter with a rise in technical debt and reverse grind being the result. Cultivate a work culture that helps developers achieve results without having to sacrifice their personal life and health.

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