Wednesday, 28 March 2007

My personal motto for software development

Here are my four commandments for software development. Nothing is really new, but these are the basis criteria I try to follow each time I code a class :
  1. Make it testable
  2. Make it simple
  3. Make it readable
  4. Make it cohesive
Make it testable: because the test act like a specification and helps us to focus on design before writing our implementation code (cf Test Driven Development).

Make it simple: because complexity has several costs (difficulties to enter the code for every newcomer, painful sessions of debugage, bigger slowness for modification, ... ).

Make it readable: because source code must be human-readable (whereas binaries must be computer-executable), and because we usually do not work alone !
The choice of our method/variable names, the adoption of common naming and coding guidelines, and the quality of our source code comments (which must expose our intentions) is crucial.

Make it cohesive: because cohesion (the measure of how strongly-related and focused the responsibilities of a single class are) brings reliability, reusability, and understandability. It is essential to be capable of formalizing the responsibilities of a class in order to ensure its cohesion (I usually ask my teammates to make their best in order to write a precise and clear "summary comment" at the top of each one ot them). Highly cohesive classes are also usually easy to test (cf. Make it testable).

Like the Test-Driven Development motto (Red, Green, Refactor), I think this kind of reminder may be useful in our daily work.