Is there an “Ideal” Software Development Environment?

Is there an ideal way of organize and work in a software development project, and, if so, what are steps you should take to achieve this ideal state? There are different software development best practices methodologies such as scrum or extreme programming, but in some cases it’s not always possible – or wise – to strictly follow these processes; we just need to stay flexible.

As there isn’t a “playbook” on the components of the ideal software development project, we can follow these renowed best practices:

Code Simplicity: Strive to keep your code simple reduce unnecessary complexity in software development. This goes hand in hand with other software principles such as DRY (Don’t Repeat Yourself), and YAGNI (You Aren’t Gonna Need It).

Automated Tests: The more you test, the more confidence your team will be. From Test Driven Development (TDD) to Behavior Driven Development (BDD), find the way that works best for you, but invest in creating, maintaining and executing tests, both unit and integration tests, in a continuous integration server. Try to increase your code coverage every week.

Code Coherence: When working with a team, it’s important to have a consistent living style guide for your codebase. If you have a codebase where you can tell who wrote a particular file then there isn’t consistency between authors. Include a tool to enforce a consistent style.

Code Reviews: Don’t be shy, allow someone to check your code! Everyone makes mistakes. Having a colleague read over your pull requests before merging is a good way to ensure final code quality. Code reviews help reduce bugs in the product – that’s the bottom line – so give up that idea of perfection.

Estimation: Set your time and budget estimates realistically. A realistic budget keeps your software project from feeling too much pressure. With agile methods, this enables the scope to flex more easily as the project progresses, but an estimate that is truly off can cause problems in quality, morale and output.

Summing-up: In reality, the “ideal” software development environment may never exist! Each project has its own characteristics and complexity. Hopefully these concepts make your projects more consistent and coherent. When in doubt, share your knowledge, encourage trust among your development team, stay positive, and remember – you will ship!

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