One topic in software development that really fascinates me is coding best practices. I’m always searching for ways to improve my work and deliver value in a fast and consistent manner.
It can be tricky to define what a “coding best practice” is. Some people are even in favor of downright retiring the term! But one thing pretty much everyone agrees upon is this: coming up with and implementing strategies—by whatever name you call them—to improve the output of one’s work is something that any developer worth his or her salt should be continuously doing.
Of course, there’s no free lunch. The adoption of a best practice takes time…and sometimes you just don’t have much of that to begin with. And then there’s management, whose buy-in is not always guaranteed.
So, what to do if your development team is struggling with the poor quality of a codebase while lacking time to implement best practices that would help?
The answer I offer you today is what I’ll call the “coding best practices emergency pack”: a small list of coding best practices that you can adopt on relatively short notice to get your team and your codebase from utter chaos to a more manageable state.
Because there’s lots of advice on coding best practices out there, to the point where it’s hard not to feel overwhelmed, I narrowed down my list of emergency-pack best practices by requiring they meet three criteria:
- They must be fundamental, in the sense that they’re the building blocks with which you can implement more sophisticated practices later.
- You can adopt them in relatively short notice. (I’d say a week is feasible.)
- Their cost is free or very low.
The practices that follow all fit these parameters. And without further ado, here it is: my coding best practices emergency pack, with items listed in the order they should be implemented and starting with the most critical one.