Here are 10 important techniques for writing clean code, regardless of what programming language you use.
1. Keep it Simple, Stupid
The first and the most basic tip is to keep it as simple and readable as possible. The more simply you can solve a problem, the less error prone your code will be, and it’s easier for others to read and understand. Your code is not an artist’s canvas on which to explore your creative side (though writing clean code is absolutely an art). Understanding how to keep it as simple as possible is paramount to good clean code.
2. Develop Processes and Stick To Them
Your compiled code will eventually run into complex problems that frustrate you. Even for experts, the best way to solve a complex problem is to formulate an algorithm or process that breaks it into sub-parts, and then formulate a solution for each sub part that works for the whole. When you start developing processes that work for you, your code will inevitably become cleaner.
3. Comments Are For Winners
As people grow and gain experience as a coder they tend to forget one of the most basic tips that they received in their programming training – leave comments in the code. Posting comments to your code is important in literally every programming language. It makes updating, debugging, analysis and other post-programming activities much easier and more efficient. It also helps tremendously when other programmers need to get into your code to work on it.
4. Small (See, even the headline is tiny)
Writing a 10,000 line code is not what makes you a great developer, but reducing a 10,000 line code to something smaller without changing the output is the trademark of a good coder. Do not repeat code and use programming tools such as functions, objects and array to good effect. Optimizing the code is what separates a great coder from all the good ones around.
5. Mind Your Gaps
Indentation in the code is meant to help with organization and structure – especially helpful when you’re working with a team. Imagine your code is a grocery store. You enter the store looking for 3 items, but this particular store does not keep all the dairy products in one section, they are organized with the other products by barcode number. My guess is you’d be looking for a while to find the milk. Not indenting your code causes the same issues.
6. Use Proper Naming Conventions
This is one tip that keeps popping up in nearly every discussion about the correct way of working on any programming language, and still people tend to forget or neglect it. Using a proper naming convention is extremely important in coding, as other coders will likely need to use it later. Having irrelevant or contradicting names to your pages, variables, functions or arrays will only create much more work in the future. Therefore, name elements on the basis of what they are and make it a habit to maintain a convention throughout your code.
7. Explore & Learn
Be your own teacher and try to explore as much as you can. There is a lot of help available in the form of good online courses and experienced coders who share their insights. All you need to do is keep writing more code, keep learning about new techniques and make sure what you learn in your exploration is represented in your work. Remember, there is no shortcut – the more you code, the better you get. Always look for reasons to explore and learn new things. Never be content with your current knowledge.
8. Use Your Own Brain
Instead of simply copying and pasting code from work someone did before, learn to use your brain. Optimize the code that you have by yourself. Work through all the problems yourself. Simply using others code might give you a quick fix, but you will not learn to write clean code until you use your own brain to do it.
9. Test, Test, Test
Running into bugs in your code is absolutely frustrating, but it obviously will happen. To reduce these situations, test your code often. It takes time to run tests which is why some coders don’t do it, but I guarantee it will save work in the long run.
10. Play with Code
Being a good developer is both an art and a science. You must, must, must practice writing code and learn new languages all the time. Humans generally learn best by doing, and from what we can tell of the animal world at large, play is a huge part of learning. Play will result in failure, but play also allows us a fun opportunity to try again and again until we get it right. Play with code like it’s a toy, enjoy what you do, and it will translate into making you a better coder.