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Practice Good Workflows

2nd June 2020

This is a part 5 of a series: Best Software Development Practices

In the previous parts of our series on how to advance your software development skills, we’ve looked at the research, the planning and the attitude you need to take: Getting away from the keyboard, staying motivated, collaborating with others and focusing on your mindset.

When you’ve started to put those into practice, you can use them to improve your actual day-to-day work. With the right attitude and approach, you’ll be advancing your coding abilities without realising it.

And you’ll find that much simpler to do when you implement best practices and good workflows. Here are some of our top tips to make those tasks easier:

1. Build towards speed

Your ultimate goal should always be towards coding faster and more efficiently. The faster you can code, the quicker problems can be resolved.

But there’s a caveat here. Speed is rarely more important than quality. Don’t try and run before you can walk. Adding speed without preparing, without building other skills will not go well.

You should be increasing speed without compromising on quality. You want a fast impact, but it should be high quality.

To practice increasing your speed, try BeFaster. It compares your technique and time with other developers and will help you improve.

2. But always aim for good quality

In instances where deadlines are pressing and a compromise must be made, work fast but note your shortcuts. Keep track of your technical debt.

Record where you skipped over a minor issue. Mark-up where you deployed a quick, untidy fix. Add comments to remind you of where you opted for a faster option where normally you’d write something more elegant.

You’ll want to return to fix all of these issues – to improve the quality at a later date.

3. Make metrics your friend

The whole point of working faster and maintaining quality is to make sure your code has maximum impact.

You want your code to work to the best of its ability, to get the results needed. The way to know that, is to measure. To use metrics.

Make metrics your friend, because you’ll find them invaluable. They’ll help you check your speed. They’ll help you improve quality. They’ll help you return to those issues you skipped over and sort them out.

You’ll probably already use some metrics to monitor your code performance. After all, developers are software engineers, so a rigorous scientific approach should be at the heart of what you do.

Use them for productivity too. Measure the time it takes to do a task, then add keyboard shortcuts. If your time speeds up, those shortcuts are successful. Pomodoros and time sheets can help you improve too – and are invaluable for planning (and quoting) future projects.

4. Always opt for the simple approach

Whatever task you’re trying to do – whether it’s coding or admin, or whether you’re prioritising speed over quality, always favour the simplest approach.

Use the simplest language possible. Deploy the cleanest code. Omit what isn’t needed.

It’s easy to get sucked into a complicated project, adding lines here and there, amending this, tweaking that, building nice-to-have features. But all too easily that comes at the expense of the main task. The end goal.

Don’t get distracted and keep things simple. Don’t try and show off with complex languages. They just place a higher cognitive load on your brain, preventing you from applying that processing power elsewhere.

Committing often, in smaller chunks, can also help you keep things simpler and effective.

Vershd can help with that. With separate views of branches, commits, pending files and stashes, it provides a simpler overview of your code and helps keep your workflow effortless.

In the next part of our series on best software development practices, we’ll be looking at learning some of that code by heart.

Pushing to the Horizon

Do you want to use Git far more easily, with no commands or parameters to remember, and with a clear overview of your repository, plus the ability to preview changes? Then make your life easier, get a free download of Vershd, the effortless Git GUI.
Designed from the ground up to prevent errors, accidental deletions, and having to write all of this morning's code. Again.

Features include:
  • Rewind is simpler and easier than using Revert or Reset. It winds the clock back on commits, letting you choose whether to keep pending files or not.
  • Advanced Context Menus. Right clicking on a commit lets you merge, cherry pick, or create a branch there and then. Files have many ways to compare them to either historic or working files on your desktop.
  • See everyone's work in the clearest way possible. Branches shows branches and their commits, where you can easily pull, push, cherry pick and more. Pending shows what you can commit or stash. Files shows commits' details. Stashes helps you apply, view and delete your stashes.
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