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Coding Standards and Code Reviews

Visual Studio .NET 2003

A comprehensive coding standard encompasses all aspects of code construction. While developers should prudently implement a standard, it should be adhered to whenever practical. Completed source code should reflect a harmonized style, as if a single developer wrote the code in one session. At the inception of a software project, establish a coding standard to ensure that all developers on the project are working in concert. When the software project incorporates existing source code, or when performing maintenance on an existing software system, the coding standard should state how to deal with the existing code base.

The readability of source code has a direct impact on how well a developer comprehends a software system. Code maintainability refers to how easily that software system can be changed to add new features, modify existing features, fix bugs, or improve performance. Although readability and maintainability are the result of many factors, one particular facet of software development upon which all developers have an influence is coding technique. The easiest method to ensure a team of developers will yield quality code is to establish a coding standard, which is then enforced at routine code reviews.

Using solid coding techniques and good programming practices to create high-quality code plays an important role in software quality and performance. In addition, if you consistently apply a well-defined coding standard, apply proper coding techniques, and subsequently hold routine code reviews, a software project is more likely to yield a software system that is easy to comprehend and maintain.

Although the primary purpose for conducting code reviews throughout the development life cycle is to identify defects in the code, the reviews can also enforce coding standards in a uniform manner. Adherence to a coding standard is only feasible when followed throughout the software project from inception to completion. It is not practical, nor is it prudent, to impose a coding standard after the fact.

See Also

Coding Techniques and Programming Practices