How Code Quality Is Measured and why it is important?
Code quality has a major value to deliver on software quality. Even the productivity of software teams and their ability to collaborate depends on the code value. But to measure code quality is pretty much important and it is crucial as well.
So this write-up covers quality metrics of two types: qualitative metrics, including maintainability, code readability and level of documentation; and use automated, quantitative measurements of code quality, such as cyclomatic complexity.
Well, you can always use these metrics to evaluate your current quality of code and make it better.
What is Code Quality and How Can You Improve it?
This is an objective explanation of whether code is good or bad. As every developer has its own perspective and definition of what constitutes good code, so there is no single definition of quality code.code
It works in the same formula of writing. Like many factors contribute to code quality in the same way that several factors affect the evaluation of writing. Continuing the process, writers often hold good writing from their unique perspective. But most of the writers agree on several factors that make good writing—coding is similar to writing and other art forms in this regard.
There are several ways to achieve high code value, such as:
- Regular Code Reviews: As per a credible survey, software professionals hold code reviews as the most prominent way to improve programming. These reviews empower developers to collaborate and share knowledge within the community, which improves their work. Plus, these reviews ensure that the code always sticks to established standards.
- Functional Testing: It is also one of the important factors in it. As it encourages developers to focus on software functionality from the outset, and it further decreases extraneous code. Anyways, the prime aim of any software development is to write an application that delivers as per the user’s interest and requirement.
- Clear Requirements: A significant no of software projects start with a requirements document, or it is often known as story cards in agile development. A project with clear and all the requirements on the table is more likely to achieve high quality than ambiguous, poorly specified requirements.
Qualitative Code Quality Metrics
Qualitative metrics are subjective measurements that aim to better define what good means.
It is defined as the degree to which software is coded to ensure future growth. The prime theme of extensible applications is that developers must be able to add new features to code or change existing functionality without directly affecting the entire system
Code maintainability is an exact measurement of quality or how easy it is to make any amends and the risks associated with such changes.
In this case, the developers have judgments about maintainability when they make any amendments in code. Supposedly, if the change is a matter of an hour but it ends up taking three days. It implies that the code probably isn’t that maintainable.
The other way to achieve maintainability is to keep a check on the number of lines of code in a given software feature. It is to be noted that Software with more lines can be harder to maintain.
Readability and Code Formatting
Readable code should use indentation and be formatted according to standards particular to the language it’s written in; this makes the application structure consistent and visible.
Comments should be used where required, with concise explanations given for each method. Names for methods should be meaningful in the sense that the names indicate what the method does.
It is the direct indicator of quality that says good code should be without any bugs. This factor, along with readability and documentation, means any other developer can easily use code written by other developers, without taking too much time to understand how it works.
Well, If the program is not documented, it will be difficult for other developers to access it or use it, or even for the same developer to understand the code some years after now.
We can hold one common definition of quality is that it can be used for the long term and can be carried across to future releases and products. And documentation is essential to make this happen.
It also provides a way to improve by formalizing the decisions you make when writing. For instance, when you document code and do it well, you need to research from a different angle about each component and why it exists in the software. List down all the reasons for certain programming decisions that can improve application design.
It is always considered that tested programs are having higher quality code because much more attention and detailing has paid to the inner workings of the code and its impact on users.
Testing means that the application is frequently under improvement
Efficient code only uses the computing resources it needs to. Another efficiency measurement is that it runs in as little time as possible.
Many developers believe that inefficient code is not of good quality (even if it satisfies some of the criteria above). Some negative impacts of not building for efficiency are long build times, difficulty to detect and fix bugs, and performance issues for the user.
Quantitative Code Quality Metrics
There are a few quantitative measurements to reveal well-written applications:
Weighted Micro Function Points
This metric is defined as the modern software sizing algorithm. It parses the source and further breaks it down to some micro functions. It produces multiple complexity metrics from these micro functions before resulting in a single score.
Generally, it evaluates the complexity of the existing source code. It is also used to determine the WMFP value that includes code structure, arithmetic calculations, and flow control path.
Halstead Complexity Measures
Introduced in 197, the Halstead Complexity Measures include program vocabulary, program length, volume, difficulty, effort, and the estimated number of bugs in a module. It is used to evaluate the computational complexity of a given program. It simply works on the method that the more complex any code is, the harder it is to maintain and the lower its quality.
Cyclomatic complexity is a metric that defines or measures the complexity of a program. In practical terms, it counts the number of linearly independent paths through a program’s source code. Methods with high cyclomatic complexity (greater than 10) are having the maximum chances of having defects.
With cyclomatic complexity, developers can get a clear direction on how difficult it will be to test, maintain, and troubleshoot their programming. It is to be noted that this metric can be combined with a size metric such as lines of code. It helps in predicting how easy the application can be modified and maintained.
Code Quality Metrics: The Business Impact
If we think from a business perspective, the most important aspects of code quality are those having impact on software ROI. If you don’t know, software maintenance consumes about 40 to 80 percent of the average software development budget. This is a significant hindrance in software maintenance is to understand the existing code. And this is where the code quality metrics have a great impact.
As a result, quality code should always be:
- Easy to understand (readability, formatting, clarity, well-documented)
- Easy to change (maintainability, extensibility)
Beyond Code Quality: Monitoring Software Quality
Well written programming has a much higher impact on the quality of the given software. The task is not limited to measure the code only — it is necessary to comprehend and measure your software quality, and see whether it transforms in higher code quality.
It is to be noted that, existing software testing tools do not provide the entire picture of software quality. Most teams know their unit test coverage, but they have a limited view over the coverage and quality of their acceptance tests.