Clean Code and Software Development: Maximizing Efficiency and Maintainability in Uncertain Times
June 20, 2023

Johannes Dahse
SonarSource

An astounding 58% of development professionals feel overworked and burnt out from their jobs. Especially in today’s economic climate, as development teams are trying to manage the same amount of work with fewer resources due to budget cuts and workforce reductions.

Over the last several years, software developers across industries have reported growing workloads and resource constraints, leading to increased failures to meet project deadlines. Developers also spend egregious amounts of time dealing with bad code that could have been avoided. On average developers spend 32 hours fixing errors and take 10 days to fix an error post-release.

The Power of Clean Code

Now more than ever, organizations must adopt a "Clean as You Code" approach to alleviate the burden on development teams. This approach focuses on code that has been newly introduced or modified, allowing developers to identify and address issues as they code. By doing so, bugs and errors can be caught and fixed early on, preventing them from snowballing into more significant issues later in development. This can ultimately save time and reduce the burden on development teams by avoiding the need for major rewrites or significant troubleshooting.

Clean Code refers to a set of guidelines, principles and best practices that help developers write code that is easy to understand, modify and maintain. When code is clean, it is well-structured, efficient, and follows established coding standards and conventions. It is also testable, reliable and scalable, with minimal bugs and defects.

By producing Clean Code, developers can create higher-quality software that meets business requirements and is more likely to be adopted by customers. In addition, writing Clean Code encourages good coding habits which can help developers and their upcoming projects. Below are two ways that Clean Code can help address current challenges developers face today.

Maintainability is the Key to Successful Software Development

Too often, applications that are used throughout an organization are built from a patchwork of old and new code, making them harder to manage and more prone to vulnerabilities, technical debt, and potential application downtime. Therefore, software developers must take maintainability into account.

A great way to achieve maintainability is with Clean Code because it is easy to read, understand, and improve. When code is written in a clean and organized way, developers can better find and fix bugs, make updates, and add new features without introducing errors or breaking existing functionality.

Streamline Workflow with Efficient Clean Code Practices

This year, there will be 27.7 million developers worldwide according to Statista. Suppose that each of these 27.7 million developers write ten lines of code each day. That would translate into 277 million lines of code created per day. Therefore, there is even more room for problems to slip through the cracks as the number of developers and lines of code increases.

Poor quality code also increases instability and risk in an organization’s codebase. For example, in December 2022, a Southwest Airlines technical glitch caused flight delays and cancellations for several days, affecting thousands of travelers. The cause was traced back to poor quality and outdated code that was introduced into the airline's reservation system. This prevented customers from checking in, booking flights, and managing their reservations, leading to chaos and frustration for both customers and employees. This incident highlights the importance of ensuring high-quality code to prevent such issues from occurring. It also serves as a reminder of the potential consequences of poor quality code, including financial losses and damage to an organization's reputation.

Adopting a Clean Code method can enhance the efficiency of developers by accelerating software development, simplifying maintenance over time, and reducing debugging efforts. This results in improved productivity, faster delivery of high-quality software, and ultimately, more satisfied customers. Clean Code also enables developers to optimize their workflow, leading to more efficient development cycles and a better user experience.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has reported that software defects cost the U.S. economy an estimated $59.5 billion annually. This underscores the importance of Clean Code, as it can help developers mitigate risks, save time and money, boost productivity and confidence, and extend the lifespan of their software. In today's fast-paced development landscape with millions of lines of code being written daily, prioritizing the quality of code is crucial for ensuring long-term success.

Johannes Dahse is Head of R&D at SonarSource
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