In today's software development landscape, standards are crucial for ensuring quality, consistency, and scalability. They establish a common guideline and framework for development teams to follow, giving platform engineers the confidence that projects are being built effectively according to the organization’s guidelines.
Additionally, these standards give developers the confidence and freedom to work more efficiently within a well-defined framework that promotes collaboration and the production of high-quality software.
In this article, we'll explore software development standards, along with best practices for software development and tools to help follow these practices.
Software development standards
Software development standards provide a set of guidelines and best practices for developing software. These standards define a common approach to software development and help ensure that software is developed in a consistent, reliable, and efficient manner. Here are some of the types of software development standards that someone in DevOps should be aware of.
Code formatting and style guidelines
Code formatting and style guidelines are essential for ensuring that code is easy to read and easy to maintain. These guidelines define how code should be structured, including indentation, spacing, and naming conventions.
Bug tracking and issue management
Bug tracking and issue management standards refer to the establishment of guidelines and processes for effectively managing bugs and issues in software development projects. While there might not be a specific standard tool mandated, organizations can define a standard approach to bug tracking and issue management, which can include selecting specific tools that align with their requirements and workflows.
The standards can outline the preferred practices for logging and tracking bugs, including the use of dedicated bug tracking systems or issue management platforms. It may also define processes for prioritizing and assigning tasks, establishing clear communication channels, and tracking the progress of issue resolution.
Some common bug tracking tools and issue management tools used in software development include Jira, Trello, and Asana. However, the specific tools chosen may vary depending on the organization's needs and preferences. The key is to establish a standard approach to bug tracking and issue management that is followed consistently across development teams.
Secure coding practices
Secure coding practices are important for preventing security vulnerabilities in software. These practices include using secure coding techniques, such as input validation and proper error handling, as well as keeping up with the latest security updates and patches. One example of secure coding practices is following the OWASP Top 10, which is a list of the most critical web application security risks.
Documentation is an important aspect of ensuring that software is maintainable and scalable. Good documentation should include information on how the software works, how to use it, and how to modify it. This is beneficial for developers who are new to the project or need to make changes to the code.
Balancing software development standards
While following software development standards is important, it's also crucial to recognize that these standards can be misused. For example, setting unreasonable standards, such as 100% code coverage, can be counterproductive and result in unnecessary time and effort spent on testing.
Another example of the potential misuse of standards is the enforcement of an excessive amount of code comments. While documentation and comments are valuable for understanding code, setting a rigid standard that requires a comment for every function or line of code, regardless of its complexity or readability, can lead to bloated and cluttered codebases. Developers may end up spending an excessive amount of time writing and maintaining comments that do not significantly contribute to understanding the code.
It's important to set reasonable standards that balance the need for quality with the need for efficiency.
Benefits of software development standards
Consistency: Standards provide a set of guidelines that promote consistency in coding styles, naming conventions, and overall code structure. This simplifies collaboration among developers and enhances code readability, making it easier for team members to understand and work with each other's code.
Quality: Standards help ensure that developers build software in a consistent and predictable way, reducing the risk of bugs, security vulnerabilities, and other defects.
Scalability: Standards provide a framework for software development processes, making it easier to scale development efforts as needed.
Improved communication: Standards provide a common language and approach to software development, which can help improve communication between developers.
Reduced technical debt: Consistent standards help reduce technical debt by ensuring that the code is of high quality and easy to maintain. This reduces the time and effort required to make changes or add new features to the software.
9 best practices in software development
In addition to establishing software development standards, there are a number of best practices that developers should follow. These best practices can help ensure that software is developed in a consistent and reliable manner. Some of these best practices are detailed in the following sections.
1. Use automated testing and test coverage
Automated testing is the process of using tools to run a predefined set of tests automatically. This practice helps to identify issues early in the development process, ensuring that bugs are caught and fixed before the software is deployed.
Test coverage measures the extent to which the code is tested. By ensuring a high level of test coverage, developers can be confident that their code is reliable and can reduce the risk of future issues.
2. Reduce code complexity
Code complexity refers to the degree to which code is difficult to understand, modify, or maintain. By reducing code complexity, developers can make code more efficient, improve readability, and reduce the risk of errors.
Using code quality tools like linters and static code analysis, you can identify areas of code that are overly complex and make improvements.
3. Carry out code reviews
Code reviews are an important part of the software development process. They provide an opportunity for other developers to review code and give feedback.
Code reviews involve having team members review each other's code to ensure that it adheres to coding standards and best practices. This practice helps to identify defects and improves code quality, consistency, and maintainability.
4. Deploy in small batches
Small deploys involve breaking changes into smaller, incremental updates and deploying them frequently. This can help to reduce the risk of introducing critical bugs and make it easier to roll back changes if necessary.
5. Use feature flags
Feature flags can help reduce the risk of introducing new features into production. By selectively enabling features for a subset of users, developers can test new features in a controlled environment before rolling them out to all users.
6. Employ continuous integration and deployment
Continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD) can help ensure that software is developed and deployed in a consistent and reliable manner. By automating the build, test, and deployment process, developers can ensure that changes are tested and deployed quickly and efficiently.
Your team can use a CI/CD pipeline to automate testing and improve the speed and efficiency of the development process.
7. Use version control
Use a version control system like Git to keep track of changes to code and collaborate with other developers. This approach makes it easier to roll back changes, collaborate on code, and track progress.
8. Practice agile methodologies
Agile methodologies emphasize collaboration, flexibility, and iterative development. Agile methodologies include scrum, kanban, and extreme programming.
9. Emphasize software ownership
Encourage a culture of ownership, where developers take responsibility for the software they write and invest themselves in its success. This can help foster a sense of pride and ownership, leading to higher-quality software and more engaged teams.
Tools to help follow best practices
There are a number of tools available to help developers follow software development standards and best practices.
Observability tools provide real-time monitoring and visibility into applications and infrastructure. These tools help teams detect and diagnose issues quickly, allowing them to respond and resolve problems faster. Popular observability tools include Datadog, Dynatrace, and Grafana.
Code analysis tools
Code analysis tools are designed to help teams improve the quality and security of their code. These tools help identify potential vulnerabilities, enforce coding standards, and provide insights into code performance. Popular code analysis tools include SonarQube, Snyk, Lacework, and Codacy.
Project management tools
Project management tools allow team members to collaborate on tasks and projects, as well as assign and track issues and progress. Popular project management tools include Jira, Rally, and Asana.
CI/CD tools help teams automate the software delivery pipeline. They provide features such as automated builds, testing, and deployment to accelerate the development process and improve the quality of the software. GitLab and Jenkins are examples of CI/CD tools that offer end-to-end automation capabilities.
Git tools help teams manage code repositories and collaborate on code. They provide features such as version control, branching, and merging to help teams work together more efficiently. Popular Git tools include GitHub, GitLab, and Bitbucket.
OpsLevel is a product that enables organizations to manage microservices-based systems effectively. This involves establishing ownership, measuring the adoption of preset standards, and even providing service templates with standards baked-in, so developers can feel confident that every new service they spin up meets their organization’s requirements.
The OpsLevel Internal Developer Portal (IDP) also integrates with the above tools, so customers can track alerts, deployments, git repos, and more—all from one place.
Developing high-quality software requires following standards and best practices. Adherence to the standards and best practices outlined here can lead to better code quality and streamlined development processes. However, it can be difficult to ensure that all developers are following these standards and best practices. This is where OpsLevel can help.
According to a recent customer survey, implementing OpsLevel led to improved standardization in 74% of cases and increased completion rates of org-wide initiatives in 58% of cases. Additionally, customers saw an average 12% increase in software reliability and availability satisfaction.
To learn more about how OpsLevel can help your team follow software development standards and best practices, request a demo today.
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