Code Quality: The Whys, Problems, and Solutions

by Josh Biggs in Tech on 25th February 2021

According to Statista, in 2019, the UK employed 386.9 thousand software development and programming professionals. The technology sector has been one of the most far-sighted industries since the global computer boom in the 1980s/90s. The present era has seen businesses more inclined towards developing advanced systems using complicated concepts such as artificial intelligence and computer vision to make our lives simpler.

Naturally, this boom has led to a shortage-like situation for quality software developers who form any software development project’s backbone. No, there is no shortage of developers; everyone seems to want to code these days. There has, though, been a shortage of quality developers. 

This article will discuss why software developers delivering quality code is important. 

Why Ensure High Code Quality?

With any software, developing it to ensure it works is just part of the job. Is the software scalable? Is it maintainable? Does it consume more resources for building than it should, thus increasing the need for resources like time, cost, and workforce? Does the code make at least some sense to a non-technical person? Does it provide consistent outputs for a range of inputs?

Clean, readable, optimised, high-quality code is instrumental in ensuring that the answer to all these questions is yes. To this extent, a research of 680 companies conducted by Codacy revealed that companies spend five hours per week or 12.5% of the workweek reviewing or looking at code on average.

Does this imply developers must utilise a lot of time creating quality code? Not at all, as Codacy further found out that spending more than a day a week does not translate to a perception of an improved code, or new features added to enhance the existing code.

Code optimisation and code maintainability go a long way in ensuring timely payback of tech debt or fixing minor bugs and glitches in the code. They also ensure the company spends less in trying to fix what they’d already spent resources getting done in the first place. But is that enough for a business to grow?

  1. The Problem – Quality Over Innovation

The need for perfection can be, depending on the situation, either your greatest ally or your biggest success hindrance. Especially with British development companies’ culture, SME’s global survey of 44,000 companies found that British software developers are amongst the most productive developers in the world.

Their average throughput of 1.26 is 80% more as opposed to the global average of 0.7. If we keep things strictly European, British developers are 19% and 35% more efficient than their French and German counterparts.

The success rate for British developers stands at 95% compared to the global average of 61%. So, is 95% an extraordinary number? Well, that may depend on how you see success. Today’s intense competition and increasing customer demands have forced many developers to take the roads less travelled – to ideate and implement new ideas, innovate, and add to what already exists to ensure their product stands out in the market.

CircleCI EMEA GM Nicholas Mills couldn’t be more accurate when saying that these developers are “not taking chances with their code.” These developers may have some fantastic ideas that could revolutionise the software industry, but as Thomas Edison once said, “The value of an idea lies in the use of it.”

Risks are a part of any business, but the British do not seem interested in the risk to reward concept, thereby ensuring sustainable growth and profitability at the cost of booming growth and a path-breaking development.

The more risks you take with your code, the more complex the ideas are to implement, the sweeter the final output always feels. That is not to say that code quality is not important or must take the backseat, no.

According to Codacy, “developers spend 45% of their time fixing bugs or addressing technical debt as opposed to building new features”. To resolve this  start at the beginning with stricter reviews because the Codacy research goes on to state that “stricter code reviews lead to less time fixing bugs and more time delivering new features. Less strict code reviewers spend 31% of their time fixing bugs whereas stricter reviewers spend 24%”.

The problem is time management; how do developers write efficient, high-quality code while being innovative with your development?

The Solution – Automation Tools

Businesses in the UK and across the globe could do well to ensure their priorities lie not in the mundane but the extraordinary. SaaS platforms and code quality tools ensure your code is optimised, maintainable, scalable, and high-quality.

Platforms such as BlueOptima and Sonarqube bring automation such as identifying areas of training and live collaboration in a real-time environment. Some platforms such as Code Climate also assess employers’ problem-solving skills for managers or technical recruiters to better evaluate the developers.

Such platforms can also automatically review code during pull requests and commits to ensuring that the development team can focus on further value addition. Companies can also leverage such tools for features such as pair programming, predictive assessment, and developer statistics.

Furthermore, developers can use advanced features such as geographical analyses and code comparison with industry peers to improve the software code and sharpen their skills and understand the best practices that lead to quality code. Developers may spend days trying to achieve a desired quality of code, but only so much can be expected from a developer. These tools measure code and provide metrics beyond what a dev-team could, and they do so while saving time which can subsequently be utilised for adding new features and innovating with their code.

Final Word

Code quality assurance must be a constant process implemented right from the start to ensure no additional costs in the future. Right from accepting pull requests to reading and tracing glitched code, managers have their work cut out in terms of ensuring the code is efficient and does the intended job. Add to that ensuring code maintainability and quality, and the workload reaches a threshold where code quality is treated as a luxury and is often compromised.

Save cost, and most importantly, innovate faster with SaaS platforms to ensure your software is competitive and developers enjoy inventing and adding more value instead of fixing the cracks. As Steven Johnson once said, “…innovation doesn’t come just from giving people incentives; it comes from creating environments where their ideas can connect”.

Categories: Tech