What Is Code Quality? (And How To Measure It)
Computer programmers use code quality to determine how high the quality of a code set, program or software is. You may use a code quality test to see if a product is consistent, functioning correctly and ultimately ready for audiences to use.
If you're interested in how well your code functions, how easy it is to understand and how well-documented it is, you may consider learning how to perform a code quality test. In this article, we define code quality, explain why it's important, provide a detailed guide on how to measure it and review tips for improving code quality.
Related: Q&A: What Is Coding?
What is code quality?
Code quality is how high or low the value of a specific set of code, program or software is. A code is typically high quality if the lines of code are easily interpretable and if the developer has documented the code. High-quality code often meets these common parameters:
Functions as expected
Follows a consistent style
Is testable and reusable
Related: Guide to Quality Assurance
Why is code quality important?
Generating high-quality code ultimately enhances the end user's experience. Focusing on creating quality code can also help consumers understand the safety and reliability of the software or program they're using or are interested in using. Here are some additional reasons code quality is typically important. It:
Enhances code readability
Streamlines the process of code editing
Improves the level of program sustainability
Allows increased portability
Improves maintenance processes
Gives detailed reasons for code failure or successes
Lowers costs related to program or software
How to measure code quality
Measuring your code quality can allow you to launch and maintain a quality software or program that works well for your clients and users. Here are some steps you can follow to measure code quality effectively:
1. Measure the code's reliability
To test the code quality of a code, program or software, you can measure its reliability. Reliability is a software's ability to function without failing over a set amount of time. When testing reliability, potential errors or faults in the code typically appear and make the system fail within a certain amount of time if they're present, so measuring reliability can help you determine your program's success.
You may also see how reliable your code is by running a static analyzer, which runs an analysis of a program without actually running the program, to identify any defects or faults in the code. Then, you may revise the code to fix these errors to increase the overall quality.
2. Determine the code's complexity level
To determine how high the code's quality is, consider how complex the code is. You can use several types of measurements to determine the level of complexity present in the code depending on what you'd like to measure specifically.
For example, cyclomatic complexity, which measures how stable a program is, determines how many independent paths run through a certain set of code. The lower the number of linearly independent paths, the higher the quality of the code.
3. See how well the program moves between devices
Determining a code, program or software's portability is another critical element to test because it shows if and how well other users can use the programs or software in other environments. You can determine if a code is portable by using different methods to test it out elsewhere, such as using the program or software on multiple devices. You can also test your code on several platforms, use different browsers or program openers and adhere to some type of coding standard for your work.
4. Assess the code's reusability level
It's helpful when code is reusable so it's functional for other work, so you may want to measure your code's reusability to determine its quality. Reusability refers to whether you or others can repurpose your code in the future for other programs or projects. You can use a static analyzer to see how many interdependencies the code has to determine its reusability level. Interdependencies are elements that can only function if another element also functions.
5. Measure the program's testability level
You can measure your code's quality by reviewing its testability, which shows how well the code, program or software can support any testing efforts conducted on it. You may measure the code's testability by running tests on the code to see how many tests it takes to identify errors or faults present in the code. The size of the program and the level of complexity in the code can affect the number of tests it takes to locate any present errors.
Tips for improving code quality
After testing your code quality, you may find areas you could improve to make the end user's experience as positive as possible. Consider these tips for improving the code quality of your code base:
Follow coding best practices
It can be helpful to align your code with any coding best practices that you know. This may help ensure your code sets meet general coding standards and guidelines. Aligning your code with coding best practices can also help the code have a higher chance of being reusable and maintainable because it has more common coding techniques involved. This can also allow others to perform maintenance to the code if required.
Simplify the code
Consider simplifying the code used in the code set for the software or program. For instance, if the original code is more complex and difficult to read, you might change it to read as simply as possible so that reading and interpreting it can be a quick process for code-reading machines and users. When a code is simpler, it might also be easier to resolve any future issues that may arise. Additionally, if the code is easy to understand, it may require less expertise to change if needed, meaning others may be able to update it as well.
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