TLDR: watch the YouTube video instead
In the world of programming, writing code is just the first step towards achieving a functional application. A crucial aspect often overlooked is the readability and maintainability of the codebase. Clean and well-organized code not only improves collaboration among developers but also enhances understandability, which minimizes errors and bugs. However, an existing code base might require rewriting the code to make it cleaner and more understandable; a process called refactoring. In this article, we will explore some essential clean code techniques you can use when writing code and when refactoring to improve code understandability.
The techniques are explained in-depth in the book Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftmanship by Robert C Martin.
Use Descriptive Variable Names
Variable names should convey their purpose and meaning within the context of the code. Using meaningful and descriptive names can significantly enhance code understandability. Instead of cryptic abbreviations or generic names like “var1” or “temp,” opt for names that accurately reflect the variable’s purpose. For example, replacing “num” with “numberOfStudents” or “userInput” with “customerName” provides clarity and reduces confusion.
Use Descriptive Function Names
Similar to variables, functions should have descriptive names that convey their purpose and functionality. A well-named function improves code readability by enabling other developers (including yourself) to understand its purpose without examining the implementation details. If a function calculates the total price of a shopping cart, a name like “calculateTotalCartPrice” is far more informative than a generic name like “calculatePrice.”
Break Up and Simplify Functions
Long, monolithic functions are harder to understand and maintain. By breaking them up into smaller, more focused functions, you can improve code organization and readability. Each function should have a single responsibility, making it easier to comprehend and test. Additionally, breaking up functions allows for better code reusability, as smaller functions can be used in different parts of the codebase.
Don’t Repeat Yourself
Duplication in code not only increases the chances of introducing bugs but also hinders code understandability. Whenever you encounter duplicate code, it’s essential to refactor it into reusable functions or classes. By eliminating redundancy, you promote a more maintainable codebase and reduce the likelihood of errors. Remember the DRY principle: “Don’t Repeat Yourself.”
Simplify Complex Conditional Checks
Complex conditional checks can quickly become challenging to comprehend, especially when they involve multiple conditions and nested statements. To enhance code understandability, consider simplifying these checks by introducing boolean variables with descriptive names. By breaking down complex conditions into smaller, well-named variables, you provide clear intentions and improve code readability.
Use Consistent Formatting
Consistency in code formatting is crucial for readability. Adopting a consistent coding style throughout the project helps developers understand the codebase more easily. Consistent indentation, spacing, and naming conventions make code visually appealing and minimize confusion. Consider using automated tools or code linters to enforce consistent formatting guidelines.
Refactoring code for better understandability is a critical practice that leads to improved collaboration, reduced errors, and enhanced code maintainability. By renaming variables and functions, breaking up monolithic functions, removing duplication, simplifying complex conditional checks, and adhering to consistent formatting guidelines, developers can significantly improve the readability and understandability of their code. Prioritizing these practices not only benefits the current development team but also sets a strong foundation for future code maintenance and scalability.