October 6, 2020

Why your code should be as simple as possible

“Any fool can write code that a computer can understand. Good programmers write code that humans can understand.”

Martin Fowler

Coding can usually provide the simplest of solutions to the most complicated of the problems. Programmers are trained to communicate with machines to derive results based on their directions. So far, the journey has been a cornerstone of transformation and the new face of technology.

Considering the simplification in technology as the next big thing to come, let’s talk about how we, as programmers, should shape coding into its new self.

While it’s true that coding can solve the most complicated problems, it doesn’t mean that the code needs to be complicated itself. Instead, it should be the opposite; coding is nothing short of an art form; a good code is like a painting; everyone tries to interpret it in their own way. This is why developers spend hours even on a simple calculator to try to make it easier to understand and use for both the user and fellow developers. After all, what good is your code if you need a codex to decipher it?

People look for codes that are carefully crafted for the highest order of sophistication and user-friendliness. The syntax and regular flow of your code matter a lot because if the code has thousands of lines, and unfortunately, you encounter a bug, you will have to criss-cross through thousands of lines of code to find the problem. Should such a situation arise, a well-crafted code helps to retrace your steps much faster than a poorly written code that’s scattered all over the place.

Some developers feel that writing code in a way that only themselves can understand it is some sort of an achievement, but they are oh-so-hugely-mistaken and here are some of the reasons why:

Simpler Coding means Avoiding Bugs:

Even the simplest code does not promise you zero bugs; however, debugging is much easier when the code is simple and easy to follow. Fixing a bug gets easy when the code has numerous descriptive comments added to it, making it more approachable for other people.

Easier to Improve:

Developers don’t start a code from scratch but tailor already present open-source codes to their own needs. This is an efficient way of coming up with new software and programs. These modifications are a way of keeping your “coding legacy” alive. If a code is too complicated, the other programmer would probably go for an easier option, reducing the chances that people will use your code.

How to make simple code for complex problems?

Dealing with a complex problem does not necessarily mean that you have to write complex code. The best way to move forward with a complex problem is to check whether you can make the problem simpler while ensuring that you meet all the requirements.

An excellent way to approach this would be to recheck the problem-statement to ensure that you are not making it more complex than it is.

K.I.S.S (KEEPING IT SUPER SIMPLE) FOR Simpler is better:

“That’s been one of my mantras — focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains” — Steve Jobs.

Like how many people prefer minimalistic art over abstract art, simpler code is often more sought after than complex code. It is crucial to make things simple, keeping in mind that its complexity will hinder using it. Eventually, this makes code visually easy to understand, while keeping it just as efficient, if not more (since simpler code is often less performance-intensive, thereby allowing for more efficient performance).

When all is said and done, it is always better to spend more time thinking than crafting your code. This helps you conceptualize the problem on a fundamental level, which allows you to exploit the problem’s vulnerabilities. A well-thought-out code may accomplish the same thing with just two code lines that a poorly written code does with ten strings.

Is your code as simple as it should be? Don’t be discouraged if you can’t make it simple in the first try, as they say, practice makes perfect! At Space, we incorporate internal code reviews as part of our routine to make sure reviewers understand the code and can simplify it as much as possible.

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