Updated June 2020
Development and IT departments face increasing demands to deliver changes faster, often with increasing complexity and less tolerance for downtime, and without a corresponding growth in team size to handle the extra work.
Standardizing database development practices by establishing coding standards can help achieve this by removing blockers to understanding code, easing the implementation of new code or processes, and improving code quality, so less time is spent on maintenance or fixing mistakes in the future.
Improving the readability of code
Setting standards for code writing, formatting, structure, and style means anyone, even those not immediately familiar with the database code, will be able to start understanding the code easier. Developers will pick up and write code faster, with fewer blockers from unclear code or processes making teams more productive, resilient to absences, and able to accommodate flexible or remote working arrangements.
Lastly, you’ll also be able to scale teams more quickly as hiring or changing team configurations becomes easier, with code standards simplifying onboarding, allowing you to adapt to emerging risks and opportunities, whether it’s to fix a critical bug before launch or explore a new feature.
Raising the quality of code
Bugs in code are an ever-present risk but introducing code standards reduces this risk and mitigates the harm when they inevitability arise.
Setting standards such as rules on code quality and best practice will minimize the time needed to correct errors while also making new code integration and long-term maintenance less taxing. Even so, mistakes will still occur and regular, automatic checks of code are important to identify them before they reach users. For example, peer code reviews will be more effective with standardized code styles, and setting up static code analysis against agreed code quality rules will help enforce code standards and find errors.
Simplifying the introduction of new technologies and processes
By keeping your code within set standards, introducing other process and technologies becomes faster and easier throughout your organization. Whether reworking your delivery pipeline or instituting quality control with code analysis, everything will go smoother when people know what to expect in the code.
Additionally, once a new tool or process is found useful by one team, it will be easier to share the benefits throughout your organization without losing time on duplicating work.
What to standardize
Code standardization covers a broad range of topics and the exact areas you’ll want to standardize and to what degree will vary between organizations, depending on the priorities, technologies, and practices in place. To help get you started on where you should be standardizing, common targets include:
- Code formatting and styles
- Universally agreed naming conventions
- How information on what the code does and why changes are made is documented
- Code quality rules and best practice
- Code testing and review procedures
Third party tools like SQL Prompt, which takes care of code formatting and uses static code analysis to identify errors in code as it is typed, can play a part, but you’ll also need input from across your organization.
This can be daunting but many of these coding best practices are already in place for application development, and 78% of application developers are also responsible for database development, as reported in the 2020 State of Database DevOps. Now is the time to bring these practices across to your database development as well, taking advantage of the knowledge already in your organization but not being fully utilized.
Standardizing your database development by introducing coding standards will ensure that your teams will keep up with increasing demand and deliver higher quality results. Whether by removing blockers to understanding your codebase, easing the implementation of new features or processes, or reducing the burden of maintenance and quality assurance. IT and development teams will thus be able to deliver value more frequently, while minimizing costly mistakes and downtime.
By combining code standards with the other aspects of standard database development practices, you can compound these benefits and lay the foundation for further improvements across your whole database development process.
Standardizing code is just one of our four steps to standardized database development that lay the foundation for DevOps. If you want to know more, take a look at our solution pages or get in touch to discuss your business challenges and requirements.
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