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15+ Software Development Best Practices to Follow in 2024

19th Jan, 2024
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    15+ Software Development Best Practices to Follow in 2024

    The software development market is evolving rapidly. Therefore, keeping up with the latest best practices could be a challenge for many. However, I've found that a reliable way to guarantee the delivery of high-quality software products that truly meet the clients' and end-users' needs is by adhering to established software development best practices.

    Some of the best practices in software development include writing clean and readable code, using version control, conducting code reviews, testing thoroughly, and automating repetitive tasks.  

    If you want to sharpen your skills in software development and get certified, enroll into KnowledgeHut’s Software Development Course Online. The program will introduce you to the best software development practices.  

    In my experience as a developer, I've come across a myriad of modern software development best practices that I believe every developer should be well-versed in. From crafting scalable architecture to meticulously ensuring code quality, it's crucial to adopt these essential techniques to elevate the development process. By following these practices, developers can consistently create software that not only meets but exceeds the highest industry standards. In this article, I'll be sharing this valuable information with you, covering the top 15+ modern software development best practices to enhance your development journey..

    What are the Software Development Methodologies?

    Software Development Methodologies are systematic approaches used to structure, plan, and control the software development process. These methodologies provide a set of guidelines and principles that ensure software development projects are completed efficiently, on time, and within budget. Some of the most commonly used software development methodologies include the following:

    • Agile Methodology
    • Waterfall Model
    • Scrum Framework
    • DevOps
    • Lean Development
    • Prototype Model
    • Rapid Application Development (RAD)
    • Spiral Model
    • Iterative and Incremental Development (IID)
    • Extreme Programming (XP)

    Each methodology has its own set of principles, benefits, and drawbacks. The selection of a method depends on the software project's requirements, the size of the team, and other factors such as project timelines, budget, and risks involved.

    Software Development Best Practices

    Given below are some modern software development practices that will help developers create higher quality software.

    1. Be Clear with Requirements

    One of the most important software development standards and best practices includes being aware of your product or services requirements. Programmers must follow certain best practices to implement software development processes consistently.

    One approach is to create a Software Requirements Specification Document (SRSD) that outlines software requirements and design specifications. The SRSD should include details on software design characteristics, decisions, constraints, and design diagrams, eliminating the need to ask for clarification.

    Another best practice is to keep all projects open for review to ensure that software is thoroughly reviewed before entering the release cycle. Other essential techniques include code reviews, software testing, and creating troubleshooting documentation. Neglecting these best practices can lead to undetected bugs and make it difficult to identify their origin.

    2. Proper Development Process

    A systematic approach to software development is essential for any project. The Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) provides a detailed flowchart with specific goals and actionable items. This approach ensures that methodologies align with complete objectives and helps teams and clients set expectations. The choice of SDLC depends on the project requirements, client demands, specifications, and timeframes.

    Agile development is ideal for fast-paced environments, with multiple teams working collaboratively to identify problems and streamline processes quickly. It is commonly used by large organizations such as Apple, Microsoft, and IBM.

    On the other hand, the waterfall approach is a step-by-step methodology that focuses on a logical and careful approach to program development. It is commonly used by new or beginner software developers to create their programs and improve their attention to detail. Although it has lost popularity due to its inability to adapt to sudden changes, it can still benefit those seeking a structured approach to program development. Overall, SDLC is an essential framework for successful software development.

    3. Use an Application Framework

    It's essential for software developers to use application frameworks instead of developing software from scratch. Frameworks provide reusable software components and tools that simplify the development process.

    By utilizing these frameworks, programmers can focus on writing code instead of spending time on repetitive tasks such as file format conversions and database management.

    Choosing the right language, framework and platform at the beginning of a project is crucial, as modifying them later can be difficult and time-consuming.

    Using an application framework also reduces the likelihood of encountering errors and ensures compatibility across different platforms. In a nutshell, application frameworks are a best practice that can save time and improve efficiency in software development.

    4. Keep Your Code Easy to Understand

    Keeping your code simple is considered a good software development practice you can adopt. It not only helps to maintain coherence in your code but also makes it easy to modify and repurpose. Complex code can quickly spiral out of control with one mistake, so simplicity is key.

    There are three simple checks you can perform to determine if your code is simple:

    • Your code is easy to test and understand.
    • Your code has logic boundaries that are confined to a single domain.
    • Your code is much shorter than the comments needed to explain it.

    By keeping these checks in mind and striving to simplify your code, you can make coding a smoother and more efficient process.

    5. Work in Pairs or Integrate Code Reviews

    Another one of the software development team best practices is working in pairs or conducting code reviews to improve code quality, communication, collaboration, knowledge transfer, and consistency in the codebase.

    When you pair up with another developer or review code with a team member, it will help you catch errors, improve the codebase, and share ideas.

    Conducting code reviews can also help with knowledge transfer for new team members and maintain consistency by promoting best practices.

    Having team members review each other's code ensures that all code adheres to the same standards, making future development easier. Overall, integrating code reviews into your development process can have significant benefits for your team and codebase.

    6. Write Unit Tests Before You Write Software Code

    It is essential to conduct continuous testing throughout the software development process to identify errors and bugs in the code. Even big software companies don't wait until all code is in place before testing it; neither should you.

    Continuous testing helps you understand the code you've created and what you still need to do. Pinpointing a single error causing a bug is difficult, so building testing into your workflow is necessary.

    To get started with continuous testing, you should understand DevOps testing concepts and consider shift left testing to detect errors early. Automating testing at regular intervals and exploring testing as a service are other options for identifying and correcting mistakes.

    7. Employ an Issue Tracker for Your Software

    Issue tracking software is a tool used for reporting software bugs or issues during software development. By using issue-tracking software, developers can report and address issues early on in the development process, preventing the need for costly fixes later on.
    Issue tracking software enables everyone involved in the project to see what is being worked on and the issues that need attention. Neglecting to use these tools can lead to project failures, and it is crucial to incorporate them from the beginning of the project.

    8. Implement Continuous Integration Software Development Best Practices

    A common software development practice called continuous integration (CI). It entails combining changes from different workers into a shared repository and evaluating the combined code to ensure it combines effectively. This helps catch issues early in the development process, reducing the risk of bugs and other problems.

    To implement Continuous Integration software development best practices, follow these steps:

    1. Establish a shared code repository, such as Git, that all developers working on a project can push their updates to.
    2. Set up an automated build process to compile the code and run tests automatically.
    3. Configure the build process to run on every code change, ensuring that each change is thoroughly tested.
    4. Use a Continuous Integration server like Jenkins or Travis CI to manage the build and testing process.
    5. Ensure all developers can access the Continuous Integration server to monitor the build and test results.
    6. Set up notifications to alert developers when a build or test fails, so they can quickly address any issues.
    7. Ensure that all team members understand the importance of Continuous Integration and are committed to using it.

    By following these software development best practices for Continuous Integration, you can improve the quality of your code and catch issues early in the development process, leading to a more efficient and successful software development project. You can pursue KnowledgeHut’s Full Stack Development courses to learn software development from industry experts.

    9. Use a Version Control System

    One of the best practices for software development projects is to use a version control system if multiple developers work on the same software project.

    Simultaneous work on new features or bug fixes is possible with version control tools, and it eliminates the possibility of developers overwriting each other's code. Moreover, version control systems enable you to go back to previous versions if any errors are made without causing any interruptions to the work of other team members.

    Git and GitHub are the most widely used version control systems, and GitHub is a web-based Git hosting service. GitHub's pull requests feature enhances version control by allowing you to merge explicit and redundant commits, making your Git cleaner and more readable. Other version control tools include CVS, SVN, and Mercurial.

    10. Use a Virtual Machine for Sandboxing

    Another best practice for software developers is to use a virtual machine for sandboxing. A virtual machine is a software implementation of an operating system that provides a controlled environment for testing and upgrading components, managing dependencies, and more.

    This approach also allows greater control over the sandboxing environment, even when running on a potentially unsafe third-party guest virtual machine image. Sandbox restrictions prevent applications from accessing privileged resources, such as system calls, file access, and process management.

    Virtual machines are ideal for sandboxing untrusted code and can be implemented as complete operating systems or using application containers like Docker or user namespaces in the Linux kernel. This approach adds another layer of protection against attackers attempting to exploit vulnerabilities in the application.

    11. Use a Code Signing Certificate

    Using a code signing certificate to sign your software can help establish your identity as the creator and ensure its integrity. This is one of the software development coding standards and is important for several reasons.

    If you care about preventing unauthorized copying of your software, you should sign it. By protecting your software, you are also protecting your intellectual property. The process of signing software has evolved over time, with technological advancements improving it. In the past, it was challenging for developers to sign their software using a code-signing certificate, particularly when it was distributed on CDs.

    The absence of a verification procedure resulted in anyone being able to duplicate the complete software application onto a different disk. Digital signatures were introduced as a secure way of signing documents and software to combat this. Rather than burning the software onto optical media, it could be stored on a locked flash drive or another secure storage device. However, this still did not prevent others from copying and distributing the software.

    12. Use The Right Software

    Using the right software is essential for efficient and effective software development. The software you choose should be tailored to your needs and have features matching your requirements. For example, if you're developing a mobile app, you need to use software designed specifically for development.

    Choosing the right software can be difficult, but some essential factors must be considered. Here are a few tips to help you choose the right software:

    • Identify your requirements: Before looking for software, identify what you need it to do. Make a list of required features and prioritize them based on their importance.
    • Research your options: Research the available options that meet your requirements. Consider their features, ease of use, and compatibility with your existing tools.
    • Read reviews: Read reviews of the software you're considering. Look for reviews from users in a similar industry or with similar needs to yours.
    • Try before you buy: Many software providers offer free trials or demos of their software. Use these to test the software and see if it meets your needs.
    • Consider cost: Cost is always a factor in software selection. Consider the upfront cost, ongoing maintenance costs, and any licensing or subscription fees.
    • Look for support: Choose software with good support, including online help, documentation, and customer service.

    By choosing the right software, you can save time and money in the long run and improve your software development process.

    13. Keep Documenting Your Progress

    Documenting your progress is one of the most important software development best practices. It involves keeping track of your work, including code changes, issues, and resolutions. Documentation helps you keep track of your progress and provides a record of what you’ve done, which is helpful for future reference.

    Documentation can take many forms, including comments in your code, commit messages, project notes, and user manuals. Good documentation should be clear, concise, and easy to understand. It should also be kept up-to-date and organized to make it easy to find what you’re looking for.

    One of the main benefits of documenting your progress is that it helps you avoid repeating mistakes. You can learn from your mistakes and improve your future work by keeping a record of what you've done. Documentation also helps other team members understand your work, making it easier for them to collaborate and build upon it.

    Another benefit of documenting your progress is that it can help you identify patterns and trends in your work. For example, if you notice that you frequently encounter a particular issue, you can investigate and address the root cause. This can help you improve the quality of your work and reduce the time it takes to complete future projects.

    14. Pay Attention to Style Guides

    To ensure consistency and maintainability of code, paying attention to style guides is a vital software development best practice. A style guide provides guidelines on writing code and ensures that code is consistent, readable, and easy to understand. This helps to reduce the time and effort required to maintain and update code in the long run.

    A good style guide should cover naming conventions, formatting, commenting, and coding practices. It should be easy to understand and apply and should be updated regularly to reflect coding standards and procedure changes.

    Using a style guide helps ensure that all team developers write code that adheres to the same standards. This makes it easier to collaborate on projects, as team members can read and understand each other's code more efficiently. It also helps new team members to get up to speed quickly and reduces the likelihood of introducing errors into the code.

    Additionally, adhering to a style guide can improve code quality and reduce the risk of security vulnerabilities.

    15. Design Before Coding

    Following good software development practices is paramount to creating the best software. It involves planning and visualizing the software application before writing any code. This involves creating a detailed plan of the software's functionality, user interface, and architecture.
    Designing before coding helps to ensure that the software meets the requirements of the users and stakeholders. It also helps identify potential issues or limitations early in the development process, saving time and resources later on.

    Software developers can use various design techniques, such as wireframing, prototyping, and creating mockups. These techniques allow developers to visualize the software's design and functionality before writing code.

    Designing before coding also helps ensure the software is scalable and maintainable. A well-designed software architecture can make it easier to add new features and functionalities in the future. It also helps ensure that the code is easier to maintain and debug, saving time and resources in the long run.

    16. Don’t Push too Many Features

    It is one of the industry best practices for software development. Pushing too many features at once can be tempting but is a dangerous practice in software development. Adding too many elements at once in software development can overwhelm users, increase complexity, delay release, and increase the risk of introducing bugs.

    Prioritizing features and adding them one at a time can help avoid these issues, allowing for careful testing and refinement of each element before moving on to the next. This approach also makes it easier to maintain and debug code, ensuring a positive user experience that isn't overwhelming.

    17. Maintain Staging and Production Environments

    Maintaining separate staging and production environments is crucial for successful software development and is one of the software development environment best practices. With a staging environment, developers can test software changes in a controlled environment, debug issues without impacting users, apply security patches, recover from disasters, and perform performance testing.

    Testing in a staging environment allows for automation and manual testing to ensure everything is working as expected and simulate real-world traffic.

    Debugging is more accessible in a staging environment because it is isolated from the production environment, and security patches can be tested before they are deployed to the production environment. Ultimately, maintaining separate staging and production environments ensures that software changes are thoroughly tested and verified before they are deployed to users.

    18. Adapt Software Development Standards

    Adapting software development standards ensures your software meets project requirements, team strengths, changing technologies, and continuous improvement. While development standards provide a valuable framework for software quality, they may need to be adapted to suit project needs, team composition, and evolving technologies.

    Adapting development standards to your project can help ensure your software is delivered on time and within budget. Adapting to team strengths can help ensure everyone works efficiently and effectively. Adapting to changing technologies can help ensure your software remains up-to-date and relevant. Finally, regular evaluation and updates to development standards can ensure your team constantly improves and delivers high-quality software. It’s surely one of the software development workflow best practices.

    How to Learn Software Development Best Practices? 

    I recommend the following step-by-step approach for learning software development best practices:  

    • Learn the Basics: 

    Start by mastering programming basics, understanding data structures, and learning algorithms. A solid foundation is key. 

    • Check Industry Guidelines: 

    Explore widely accepted industry standards and frameworks. Look into organizations like IEEE or ACM for helpful publications. 

    • Get Hands-On: 

    Work on real projects. Join open-source initiatives or collaborate on actual applications. Practical experience is super important. 

    • Know Version Control: 

    Learn Git or other version control systems. It helps with collaboration, tracks changes, and keeps your code in check. 

    • Stay Updated: 

    Keep learning about new trends. Follow blogs, attend webinars, and join conferences. Stay in the loop with the latest practices. 

    • Review Code: 

    Participate in code reviews. Give and receive feedback. It's a great way to learn from others and improve your skills. 

    • Test Your Code: 

    Understand different testing methods like unit and integration testing. Making sure your code works is a big part of best practices. 

    • Go Agile: 

    Learn about Agile methodologies. Understand how working in short cycles and getting regular feedback makes projects smoother. 

    • Think Security: 

    Explore security best practices. Know about encryption and authentication to keep your software safe. 

    • Document Well: 

    Make a habit of clear documentation. It helps others understand your code, making collaboration easier. 

    • Join the Community: 

    Be part of developer communities online. Share experiences, learn from others, and stay updated on what's happening in the developer world. 

    How These Best Practices will Impact Your Projects?

    Adopting software development best practices can significantly impact your projects. The techniques can dramatically increase the chances of success for your projects. They ensure that your code is scalable, efficient, and maintainable. Moreover, there will be lesser risk of errors and security vulnerabilities. These practices will also improve team productivity and collaboration.

    Moreover, these practices have played a pivotal role in improving team productivity and fostering better collaboration. For instance, leveraging agile methodologies has made my team more responsive to changing requirements, while enhancing communication and collaboration among team members. The implementation of automated tests and regular code reviews has proven effective in catching errors early on, resulting in fewer bugs in the final product. Additionally, using version control systems like Git has streamlined code management and collaboration with fellow developers.

    By following secure software development best practices, you can create software that is of higher quality, more reliable, and easier to maintain in the long run. It also ensures that your team works efficiently and effectively towards the common goal of delivering a successful project..

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    Modern Software Development Best Practices vs Old Method

    Modern Best Practices
    Old Methods
    Development Methodology
    Agile: iterative, incremental, adaptable.
    Waterfall: sequential, rigid, fixed requirements.
    Release Cycle
    Frequent releases, continuous integration & delivery.
    Large, infrequent releases, long testing cycles.
    Cross-functional teams, open communication, shared responsibility.
    Silos between departments, limited communication, individual ownership.
    Requirements Management
    Evolving requirements, user feedback is valued.
    Fixed requirements documented upfront, changes costly.
    Continuous testing, automated tests, focus on prevention.
    Late-stage testing, manual tests, focus on detection.
    Automated deployments, rollback & rollback strategies.
    Manual deployments, risky rollbacks, limited rollback options.
    Technology Stack
    Cloud-based technologies, open-source software, latest tools & frameworks.
    On-premise infrastructure, siloed tools, reliance on specific vendors.
    Collaborative documentation, live and up-to-date.
    Static documentation, created after development, often outdated.
    Delivering value early and often, customer feedback drives development.
    Meeting deadlines and specifications, focus on internal functionality.

    Implementation Ensures Success

    These top software development best practices 2024 are essential for developers to know and implement in their projects. From the early stages of design and planning through development, testing, and deployment, these practices help ensure software products' quality, reliability, and security.

    By diligently following these best practices, I've observed significant improvements in collaboration, productivity, and communication with both team members and stakeholders. Simultaneously, these practices have proven effective in cost reduction, error avoidance, and meeting project deadlines.

    It's worth noting that the field of software development is ever-evolving, and I've learned the importance of remaining adaptable and open to learning new techniques and tools. Continuously evaluating and refining these best practices has become a routine for me, helping me stay up-to-date and ensuring the ongoing success of my projects..

    For practical knowledge on software development, try KnowledgeHut’s online course Web Development program. 

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    1What are the 5 software development phases?

    It includes planning, design, development, testing, deployment, and maintenance. 

    2Which SDLC model is best?

    There is no one "best" SDLC model, as each has its own strengths and weaknesses. The choice of model depends on the specific project requirements and constraints. However, Waterfall Model, Agile Model, Spiral Model, and V-Model are most commonly used nowadays.  

    3What are the levels of a software developer?

    The levels of a software developer can vary depending on the company or organization but generally include Junior Developer, Intermediate Developer, Senior Developer, Lead Developer, and Architect. Some companies, such as Principal Developer or Technical Fellow, may also have additional levels. 

    4Which field is best for software developers?

    The field you choose may depend on your interests, skills, and career goals. There are many fields and industries that require software developers, such as finance, healthcare, e-commerce, entertainment, and many more. Researching different industries and job opportunities is essential to find the best fit for you. 

    5Which software skill is most in demand?

    Various software skills are currently in high demand. Some of the most sought-after skills include cloud computing, AI (artificial intelligence) and machine learning, cybersecurity, mobile development, and full-stack development.  


    Sachin Bhatnagar

    Program Director, FSD

    With 20+ yrs of industry experience in media, entertainment and web tech, Sachin brings expertise in hands-on training and developing forward-thinking, industry-centric curricula. 30k+ students have enrolled in his tech courses.

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