| by Seminda Rajapaksha | No comments

Should business owners care about code quality?

Code forms the invisible building blocks of applications used in your organization. To business users, applications are opaque, and if they do what has expected few people worry about what’s going on under the hood. However, the quality of the code used in your applications has many implications for the application in both its present and future usage. One might even say that good code is a critical part of any application’s success, and therefore a business’s success. You can make the argument that as a business owner you are not interested in the application inner workings if it can perform the tasks expected of it. To examine this, let’s first look at some of the consequences of bad code.

As a user, you are rarely if ever exposed to the code of an application. But as mentioned earlier we can consider code the building blocks of the applications. If you use poor building blocks to build your foundations, it doesn’t matter what you stack on top of it, sooner or later your entire building will crash down on you. It is the same principle with applications, using poor coding standards may give you an application that performs its basic functions, but over time it becomes more difficult to maintain and change, your applications will encounter errors, consume more resources, and become clunky and slow. At some point, you will have to throw it away and rebuild from scratch.

With good code quality comes the ability to maintain and future-proof the applications, giving your applications the ability to change and integrate with your changing business needs.

What is code quality?

Good code follows a few simple principles. We can examine the code base on these principles to ensure that the code we have produced is up to standard and will not give us trouble in the future.

Does it solve the problem?

Has the code been refactored and made efficient?

Is it free of any bugs?

Is it documented enough so that another developer can work on it?

Have you handled errors and exceptions?

Has it been thoroughly tested?

Have you followed standard conventions in naming, indenting, and spacing?

Are you able to make changes without breaking large parts of the applications?

Is the code reusable?

If you run your code through these parameters and come up with a positive result. You can rest easy, knowing your part in creating good code.

Why is good code a good investment?

The development process is one that is heavily reliant on code quality. While some consider that the application development is done once it hits the market, this is rarely the case. Your application will go through continuous improvement and changes. Having a good code base becomes a great investment in this scenario.

Making software more robust

End-users become uncomfortable and flustered if they encounter a strange message or an unexpected error while using an application. Good code plays a pivotal role in ensuring that errors are handled and that errors messages are clear and understandable.

Reducing future development time

having a strong code base with well-structured code is a major asset when developing new features or extending the functionality of an application. This is especially true when some of these changes have to be made several months down the line. Having well documented and structured code is a huge benefit. As even if your team hasn’t changed, they will not remember how the code works without proper documentation.

Improved reusability

Reusing code makes development cycles faster. By avoiding writing and testing new code you help to bring changes and extensions to the application to market with lower lead time. Further, well written code can be reused without having to go through a gamut of testing as it has already been through the wringer. When writing code, reusability is one of the main points to bear in mind. It’s important to note though, that most good developers don’t need to constantly check if their code is written in a way that it will be reusable, as they will do this by default.

Better security

Well written code decreases the chances of a security breach in your application. Given that a breach in your application can cause the collapse of your company until the breach is found and plugged, the importance of this cannot be downplayed. While this may seem like a far-fetched scenario, it’s better to avoid the problem, than have to deal with it.

Avoiding data errors

Another common issue rising from bad coding practices is data corruption. Certain issues arising from errors within the code can lead to data corruption and data loss. This is a hard blow to any business and can lead to potential lawsuits or loss of clients. Both of which are obviously detrimental to your business.

Makes sense in the future

There is a saying that good code can be read like a book! Development, as we discussed earlier, doesn’t stop once an application has hit the market. As your business grows and changes, your software requirements will grow and change alongside. It is important to have a codebase that can be used by a future group to make these changes for you. After all, you may change your development partner. You might implement new features that tie into existing features. New developers might need to read and understand the code so they can continue to work on it. Not ensuring code quality means that you will be tied to the same company, and even to the same team, as no one else will be able to work with their code. At that point, you have become their hostage.

In conclusion

When developing an application code forms the very building blocks on which your application is to be built. Bad coding practices can lead to many issues during the lifetime of your application which can result in major financial or legal issues for your business. While initially, it may be marginally more expensive good coding practices help to create robust, maintainable, and reusable code and applications ensuring that your investment will remain sound for years to come.

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