How To Reduce Technical Debt
14 December 2020 4 min read
In software development, technical debt occurs when some necessary aspects of code are not added or eliminated as a way of completing the project sooner. The downside of technical debt is that it will most likely take more time to fix the piece of code in the future than when it is fixed today.
A project that would have lasted you ten days may end up taking more extra days if you add the time you will spend trying to fix the lines of code you had ignored. So, as a developer, you always need to avoid technical debt as much as you can. In this article, I will share with you some of the practical ways you can reduce or even eliminate technical debt in your software development projects. Let's dive in
Acknowledging that it exists
The very first thing you need to acknowledge if you are to solve the issue of technical debt is the fact that it exists. When you and your team know that technical debt does exist, it is very easy to plan on how to deal with it ahead of time. It may not be possible to have code that is 100% perfect, but as a team, your target should be being as close to 100% as possible.
Routine code review
When working with a team, it is always important to share your code with some of your team members so that they review it to identify errors and any missing lines of code that would be necessary to improve the quality of code. I would recommend using tools to review code because it makes it easy to view all changes made by everyone and the time and when those changes were made.
Also, as you plan your software development project, always break it down into smaller milestones so that you do the reviewing after each milestone. It will take more time to point out the errors and missing parts of your work at the end of the project than doing it sequentially during the development process. From the practical point of view, reviewing 100 lines of code is way easier than reviewing 3000 lines.
Also, to ease the process of reviewing for your team, always have a guideline of how the code structure should look like. When there is a structure that everyone on your team is following, it becomes way too easier to point out any error because the person reviewing knows where to find what.
Better communication between the developers and designers
Before getting started to code any project, developers need to sit down with designers and agree on how the final product should look like. This will eliminate the possibility of eliminating any useful code that could impact the way the final product is used. At some stage of development, it is also necessary to have designers of the product to make reviews of the completed sections of code and verify whether they meet their expectations of the final product.
This kind of team collaboration will save you the hustle of having to go back deep into your code to make minor changes that could have been made resolved earlier. The mistake most developers do is undermining the impact of the design team, not knowing that their contribution is equally important as far as the quality of the final product is concerned.
Choose flexible software development tools
While developing a certain project, it is always necessary to use tools that will make it easy to make changes whenever you need to. The language and frameworks you choose to develop a project will have a huge impact on how flexible it will be for your team to detect any errors and fix them as soon as possible. When it is easier to fix errors by adding or removing some lines of code, you will likely reduce the amount of technical debt at the end of the project.
You may also have to use intelligent development tools that can detect any form of syntax or semantic errors in the code. Today, most text editors do have some level of intelligence to detect errors based on the language you are using to code. They will underline any section of your code with mistakes that may need your attention. For some editors, you may have to download extensions if you want to enable certain error detection features
Set realistic deadlines
While working on a project, it is very important to consider the deadlines you set for the different milestones. When you set a deadline that is not easily achievable, you will end up focusing more on completing the project without paying much attention to the quality of the work you are doing. Working under pressure will lead to lots of errors in the final product that will take you more time to fix in the future.
So, always have a clear understanding of the type of work you are about to do before you set deadlines. You may also have to discuss with your team and agree on the timeline for each deliverable. At the end of the day, it doesn't make sense to have a product finished on time yet it has lots of errors that need to be attended to.
One of the major costs that software development teams have to deal with at some point is paying off technical debts. Just like in the financial world, the longer you take to pay off the debt, the more the costs you incur to pay it off. On the side of software development, this cost is paid in terms of time and sometimes money.
So, dealing with your technical debts in time will save you the time and money you will have to spend on them in the future. It is very important to plan ahead of time on how you will deal with technical debt. Automation and intelligent tools like duecode.io can help reduce your technical debt during the development process