5 Things Making Every Software Company Employee's Life Easier

Programmer Protocols and Etiquette


Developers are the core of any software project. Their services are of high value; According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median developer salary exceeded $100,000 last year. But developers don't control the entire life cycle process. Testing is often regarded as a separate entity even though it's typically a three-way collaboration between testers, developers, and clients. But there are five things developers can do to make things easier on the team as a whole.

1. Take advantage of errors

Suppose there is a misnamed variable that is used only if a specific special-case function is called. If error reporting is disabled, that function might never get called. Thus the problem never appears. The code gets passed with the bad variable intact. Error reporting should always be enabled when debugging and testing to spot such inconsistencies. If the problem is more complex, which it almost surely will be, error reporting can help track it down line by line. If you have gotten into the habit of coding without it, get used to it. Even if you don't code in one of the Microsoft languages, the tech giant provides informative guidelines on error reporting.

2. A repository for configuration settings

In PHP, there is a standard file named config.php which holds configuration settings for the application. Many languages have a similar approach, and if yours doesn't, it's a good idea to include such a file. This helps in deployment and testing because there are fewer files to search and edit. Optimally it should be a dedicated file which is used only for these settings. Avoid adding logic or application data, as this could get awkward if you have a version control system managing the source code. Developers should be referring to it for configuration purposes, and that's it.

3. Keep comments up to date

Working with different code blocks all day long, day after day, you might tend to forget exactly what your thinking was behind a procedure you wrote six weeks ago. You shouldn't have to guess, and neither should anyone else. Always take the time to comment. Someone else is liable to be working with your code, and it's far better that they have too much information than too little, none at all, or the wrong information. They tell the story behind the code, and anyone looking at it will catch on that much faster. But everybody has to be on board with comments, one way or the other. Nothing can mess up progress more than a developer who changes the code but not the comments.

4. Encourage automation

Different steps in the phases of the development lifecycle can be automated. This is especially true of deployment and testing. Where various shell scripts were once used to get the job done, deployment tools are becoming more the standard in both desktop and web applications. And they can be managed far more efficiently and to a greater detail than adjusting scripts. Case management software can even further simplify and expedite implementing and tracking a variety of test case scenarios.

5. Code predictably

In a project with multiple developers, get together with your team and agree on the conventions you'll use when you code. These might be interfaces, coding style, documentation, naming variables, or any standard practices you can all use to maintain similar code. Using these conventions brings the benefit of predictability. This means all programmers will share a basic understanding of the code used. For instance, programmers of a web app might agree that all classes have a method called get_login which fetches the user ID. Everyone seeing it will immediately know what it means and what it does.

Project success is dependent on effective communication and critical to that communication is the software itself. It has to be understood and properly maintained and tested by the entire team, at every stage, or all those meetings mean nothing.

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