Everyone makes mistakes. It's part of being human. We mess up, we learn, we do better next time. That said, some mistakes are worse than others - especially in web development. Today, we're going to talk about some of the biggest blunders you can possibly make - cardinal sins that you should avoid at all costs.
Nobody is perfect. Even the best developer makes a mistake every now and then - it's to be expected. We are, after all, only human.
At the same time, there is a difference between a mistake and a cardinal sin. The former is an honest slip-up - a missed apostrophe here, a spelling mistake there, and so on. The latter, though?
The latter is a blunder so considerable that anyone who makes it twice should probably consider a new career. Let's discuss some of the worst in that regard. The biggest mistakes you can make as a developer - and what you can do to avoid making them.
When you're putting your software together, it can be tempting to go overboard. To pile on as many features as you possibly can, adding bells and whistles just because they might be useful. This is a path that only ends in disaster.
Let me introduce you to a little thing known as feature bloat. It's pretty much exactly what it sounds like. When you prioritize new features and functions over the core purpose of an app or system, a few things tend to happen.
- Your interface becomes a sprawling, confused mess.
- Performance suffers, and the app either has a footprint the size of an elephant or else starts to move at the speed of a geriatric old man.
- Users become frustrated and end up migrating to competing software.
Feature bloat is not the only way you can over-engineer your software, mind you. You can also go way too deep into code abstraction, throwing in new design patterns and implementing new frameworks just because you can. A good rule of thumb here is that if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Because you'll probably just end up breaking it.
We've all dealt with a developer whose code is the programming equivalent of a college dorm room after a mixer. Maybe we've even been that developer at one time or another in our lives. Thing is, when you're sloppy with your code, it displays both laziness and a lack of respect.
If you don't comment your code, anyone else who tries to update or modify your software - and if you're coding for a business, there will be others - will be unable to do so efficiently. If you aren't coding in the most efficient, streamlined way possible, you open yourself up to an entire laundry list of potential errors and vulnerabilities. Make an effort to keep your code crisp, clean, and organized.
And more importantly, leave comments that actually tell people what each snippet does.
Related read: Bugs, Fixes and Free Cheese
Lack of testing
Hey, I get it. You're a good developer. Maybe one of the best in your organization.
Don't let it go to your head. Like I've already said, everyone makes mistakes. Especially the people who are convinced they don't.
I've lost count of the number of applications and platforms that were pushed through to live without being tested. Want to know what almost every single one had in common? Eventually, the business that pushed them out uncovered some crippling vulnerability or software-breaking bug.
Your QA department exists for a reason. Failing to leverage them is like publishing a major press release without putting it through an editorial process, or manufacturing a car without safety testing. You just shouldn't do it.
Thou shalt develop conscientiously
You're not perfect. Nobody is. But that doesn't mean your mistakes have to be software-breaking. Avoid the blunders we've listed above, and you should be just fine.
This is a guest post by Max Emelianov. Max started HostForWeb in 2001. In his role as HostForWeb's CEO, he focuses on teamwork and providing the best support for his customers while delivering cutting-edge web hosting services.