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The latest technologies have brought businesses to the battlefield of competition where they are striving hard to have the edge. To stand ahead in the crowd of the competitors, a business needs a high-quality software which is possible to ensure only with software testing and code quality assurance.

Development projects often tend to race against the clock and budget in such a manner that at times even asking for a couple more hands to join in to write code seems a chimera. Cutting corners might seem the easiest way, but it won’t pay in the long run. So what can be done? Creating a well-structured code which is adhered to language rules as well as easy to read and understand in different browsers. This not just turns out to be reliable but also prevents reworks in the future.

Creating quality software is far better than implementing a software. And this is where good code quality comes into play! Being subjective to several constraints like analysis, development, testing, deployment, software projects can lead to push code quality as the least important aspect. Like it or not, a good quality code doesn’t happen by accident, it needs to strategized on a consistent basis. Now many of you often get confused between code quality and software quality. Lines of code that must be followed by developers is what code quality is all about whereas software quality is implementing where your software meets in regards to quality goals- maintainability, availability, testability, usability and so forth.

Why We Need Good Code Quality?

Many of you toss around the term “code quality” a lot but have you ever wondered why it is so important? Let me explain you with the help of an example- think of food for a while, I am talking about the high-quality meal you craved for last night. You might have pictured high prices, homegrown pine nuts- too light! Maybe to you, a high-quality dinner is a cheap sandwich and who cares where it’s sourced from? For this, you need to spend around a week in the woods I am sure you will redefine your definition of quality.

Food is subjective and highly depends on context, the same holds for the code. Writing quality code is an essential investment on which we get quick returns. But the code requires to be highly readable, consistent and documented as it will lead to lower development effort. In addition to this, it needs to be clean and elegant which is easier to understand, maintains and less prone to new bugs.

Insufficient or lack of code styling, poor documentation, poorly designed architecture (with no separation of responsibilities, as in MVC), high method complexity are few reasons for a poor quality code.

How to measure code quality?

Although code quality can be measured in numerous ways, but there are a few aspects which need to be taken into consideration.

  • Readability, consistency- This emphasizes on how easy the code is in terms of reading and understanding. Here code clarity, simplicity, and documentation matter the most.
  • Predictability, reliability, and robustness- software behavior must be predictable which means it shouldn’t be prone to hidden bugs.
  • Maintainability and extensibility- Right from fixing to updating, improving the software, things should be as simple as possible.

How to achieve high code quality?

Down below I would like to mention a few pointers worth taking into account.

First, choosing an appropriate coding style depending on a language or a framework. For instance, if you are working on PHP, you can think of picking PSR-2. Moreover, you can incorporate CS fixer tools with your development environment.

Second, consistency in regards to class, method and variable names enhances readability.

Third, make sure all your documents classes, properties, methods are appropriate especially in blocks of code when necessary, assuring comments are simple, concise and compelling.

Fourth, it’s time to choose the correct design pattern to promote code reusability and extensibility.

Fifth, don’t forget to add the code analysis tools to the existing CI environment. For example, while working on PHP use phpmd and phpstan that not only features a number of different configurable rules but also can warn of potential problems in the code.

Sixth, have you considered the importance of automated testing? This not only prevents new bugs but also ensure it meets requirements and responds accordingly to a variety of inputs.

Lastly, tools like scrutinizer-ci and Codacy can be used not just to test but also display a clear overview of the quality of a project over time, and important details about what and where the issues are.

Code Review Tools to consider

Collaborator-

One of the most comprehensive peer code review tool is built where you can not just see code changes but also identify defects and make comments on specific lines. Featuring custom review templates, one can easily set custom fields, checklists, and participant groups in accordance with the peer reviews to your team’s ideal workflow. It may even interest you to know that this tool, in particular, has the potential to easily integrate with 11 different SCMs and not just that it can also be combined with IDEs like Eclipse & Visual Studio. The tool builds custom review reports to drive process improvement and make auditing easy.

Codebrag-

The simple, light-weight, free and open source code review tool makes the review entertaining and structured. Codebarg is mainly used to solve issues like non-blocking code review, inline comments & likes, smart email notifications, etc. The tool helps you in focusing on workflow to find out and eliminate issues along with joint learning and teamwork. Lastly, license for Codebrag open source is maintained by AGPL.

Gerrit-

Another interesting free web-based code review tool is used by software developers that enable them to review, reject or approve the changes in their code on a web-browser. The tool can be easily integrated with Git, a distributed version control system. Rationalized code review procedures and handling extremely configurable hierarchy becomes easy for project members.

Codestriker-

Another open source and free online code reviewing web applications assist the collaborative code review. One can record the issue, comments, and decisions in a database. This is further being used for code inspections. Because Codestriker supports traditional documents review which means it can be integrated with ClearCase, Bugzilla, CVS, etc. And the tool is licensed under GPL.

Rhodecode-

The open source, protected and incorporated enterprise source code management tool serves as an integrated tool for Git, Subversion and mercurial. Team collaboration, repository management, and code security are some of its main features. Rhodecode has two editions, Community Edition (CE) which is a free and open source and Enterprise Edition (EE) is licensed per user. On and all, the tool automates the workflow to execute faster.

Crucible-

Crucible is a web-based collaborative code review application meant to find defects, discussing the changes and knowledge sharing, etc. With the help of Crucible, Code review has become easy for SVN, Perforce, and CVS, etc. The tool acts as a flexible application that accommodates ample range of work approaches and team sizes. Besides, it is a lightweight peer code review tool mainly used in pre-commit and post-commit reviews.

Review Assistant-

The peer code review tool is meant to support the visual studio. Review Assistant is a simple and better tool that follows a light-weight process in code reviews. The tools allow professionals to create review requests and to respond to the same. Switching between the review comments and the source code turns out to be much easy for a developer using Review Assistant.

Review Board-

It is a web-based, collaborative, free and open source tool used to enhance code quality by open source projects and companies. One can save money and time which can be used in concentrating on creating great software. Integrated with ClearCase, CVS, Perforce, Plastic, the code is syntax highlighted thus making it read faster. Much like Crucible, Review Board also supports pre-commit reviews and post-commit reviews.

StyleCop-

The tool in particular analyses the consistency of source code. It mainly comprises of professionals to follow the specific set of rules when it comes to maintaining consistency in code. It can be executed from inside of Visual Studio or integrated into an MSBuild project. StyleCop has also been integrated into many third-party development tools.

The rules can be customized on the basis of your need. Down below I would like to mention a few sets of rules-

  • Documentation
  • Layout
  • Maintainability
  • Naming
  • Ordering
  • Readability
  • Spacing

Peer Review Plugin-

The web-based environment makes the code review user-friendly. Software Developers here can easily review the code whenever they feel like and that too in a distributed manner. Evaluating the files from the repository and comment the same is what the plug-in is all about.

Conclusion

Whatever development methodologies, languages, frameworks or tools you choose, having a high code quality is the only way out to achieve faster and easier development, testing and maintenance.  As a result, the costs of software ownership is reduced. In addition to this, when thinking of code quality, I would suggest you to look beyond your perception consider what impact the code has on the business that paid for it.

Overall, a high-quality code can be re-used and re-developed; low-quality code doesn’t last.

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