1. Make your Code Readable
Writing your new code is usually fun, you know what to do and are doing your best. However, trying to figure out someone else’s poorly written code can be downright nightmarish. What is often forgotten is that code is read more often than it reports. For this reason, software engineers have developed coding conventions over the years, most of which have been codified by standards such as Zend Framework Coding Standard, PSR-1 and PSR-2, or Google’s style guides.
Coding standards define everything from indentation and spaces to naming conventions, declarations, and more. Its goal is to help engineers create readable; well organize, and easy to maintain code.
2. Avoid Global Variables
Imagine creating a simple app with a login page and realizing that you must display the username in multiple places. You can approach the problem from different angles, but creating a global variable is arguably the least resistant way.
The problem is that global variables are time bombs that explode with a single mistake and cause an entire feature to fail for a very long time.
Since global variables are everywhere, you can end up using a global variable if you think you are using a local variable or vice versa. Global variables also make testing much more complex and make the code difficult to understand.
3. Read the Code of Others
Coding is all about solving challenges, and there is rarely only one way to solve a particular challenge. In many cases, the same problem can approach from different angles, and it is often difficult to decide which of the possible solutions is the best.
If you write code for a living, you probably use the first solution that comes to your mind and move on because you don’t have enough time to think of something better. It is why it is so important to study other people’s codes in your spare time.
4. Include Code Refactoring
Most writers hate reading their own work, and most clients hate hearing about what works. While the process of refactoring or restructuring code without changing its external behavior isn’t exactly sexy, it is more than necessary.
Code refactoring is a deep topic, but its main rule is that you should always break down extended functions and methods into smaller chunks. If your functions are longer than twenty-five lines, there is a good chance that you will break them down into two or even three small functions and improve the readability of your code.
5. Use the Version Control Software
From Git to Fossil to Mercurial, many version control tools are available today that all developers can use. This detailed comparison of version control software is an excellent place to start.