Friday, January 21, 2011

Encourage Good Coding Practices From Software Developers

As a technical lead I have always tried to encourage my software development teams to maintain good coding practices. This has not always been easy and here are some of the lessons that I have learned to help out.


1. Assign at least two people to every part of a project. Also known as team programming, this is a great method to make sure that two sets of eyes see every line of code. It tends to produce more maintainable and more readable code. This also lessens the impact of developers quiting a team before project completion.

2. Hold code reviews with sign-offs. If coupled with step #1, this makes sure that at least 3 sets of eyes sees the entire code base. Sign-off simply ensures that a senior lead has reviewed and given the OK ensuring that a person with senior level ability approves of the code.

3. Create an easy standards document. Try to do this in conjunction with the team's input. No developer likes to be told code, so if he or she has input into the process, they can help to shape the document that, in the end, they will have to adhere to.

4. Establish good "code-sharing" techniques. Projects often have weekly status meetings, but the technical lead should hold coding status meetings in addition to the project status meetings. This will allow developers the opportunity to discuss their code, the projec, or any other issues that they might have of a technical. These meetings might be 10 minutes or last for an hour, the point being that you offer work time for developers to discuss different coding techniques.

5. Make yourself available. Often times, technical leads do a good bit of coding themselves and are usually one of the busier people on the project; however, if you turn away your developers enough times, then not only will quality of the code suffer, but your expertise is not being used to its full advantage.

This can backfire with some developers who think that this might mean that they do not have to do any research since you are now a one stop shopping code fixer - so try to set up office hours or have your developer schedule appointments rather than just stop in.

Tags: status meetings, that they, sets eyes, sure that, technical lead