Software Engineering Best Practices in 2021

software engineering best practices in 2021

In any position, an awareness of modern best practices is an invaluable tool. Hiring the right remote software engineer for any project will require at least a passing understanding of the best practices in the field going into 2021 and beyond. 

Tech changes so rapidly it can be difficult even for trained software engineers to track new trends and policies. Both software developers and engineers can benefit from a breakdown of how industry trends are changing the landscape of desired skills and useful assets. 

Here’s what you should know regarding software engineering best practices in 2021.

Software Engineering Best Practices in 2021

1. Keep it Simple, Stupid

The acronym K.I.S.S. is more than a trend—and we don’t mean the rock band. The abbreviation stands for “keep it simple, stupid” and all of its variations. In industries of all kinds, the phrase is highly applicable and a recipe for easier success. In software engineering, this policy is essential.

This means writing concise and to-the-point code, trimming the fat, and focusing on overall purpose. Simple code is highly maintainable, ensuring that engineering work lasts and is adaptable. For software projects that build value long-term, a simple approach is the best way to go.

Whether you’re a software engineer or a hiring manager, concise communication and coding can be useful qualities to implement into your projects. 

2. Test Often

Writing and automating tests in the process of engineering new software is a best practice no user-facing platform can afford to neglect. Tests ensure smooth functionality and a pleasant user experience (UX). This is an especially important factor for Millennial users, who expect easy navigation and levels of engagement and personalization. 

Testing can even be crowdsourced with the help of platforms like GitHub. Software engineers will understand the value in receiving input from another set of eyes, and a community of experts is out there.

Whether you choose to automate testing at consistent intervals during software development or reach out to your target audience for valuable feedback and insights, testing is a best practice every software engineer should follow.

3. Be Descriptive

A professional coding style is a must-have for any modern software engineer. The ability to craft code that is functional, concise, and easily understood can translate to long-term value for businesses, as it makes code easy to update and adapt.

With expert software engineers coming from Eastern Europe, China, India, and other nations all over the world standing out with professional code are more important than ever. This means code that is readable, descriptive, and concise. Code should be clearly understood even from a brief look-over, without excessive indentation or round-about descriptions.

Many software engineers struggle to both clearly define and explain their variables while structuring code in a neat and readable fashion. However, good brief descriptions can save innumerable hours in the course of a software project.

Make clarity a part of your software from the start, taking opportunities to test readability among your team or a broader, crowdsourced community. 

4. Use Version Control

Ensuring the adaptability of your code requires that it is modular and editable across a team. Version control makes these things possible. Through a system of backing up software versions over a server database, engineers gain both a fallback system and an easy way to merge separate tracks of code within a team. 

Look for engineers with experience integrating and using version control systems or seek out that experience yourself. Doing so is a best practice in the modern software industry and can save you plenty of headaches.

With the ability to return to previous iterations of the software, you can better avoid highly destructive bugs and streamline the testing and merger processes. 

5. Cut the Excess

Similar to the K.I.S.S. mindset, keeping your code free of excess is an invaluable practice. Too often, redundant coding, descriptions, or features pile up in poorly optimized code, dragging down software and creating poor UX.

Streamline your software engineering by cutting duplicate code and avoiding self-repetition. It may be difficult to delete code you thought you might use later, but odds are you never will. This is often referred to as the Y.A.G.N.I. principle, meaning “you aren’t gonna need it.” Because of the dynamic nature of software, by the time you reach the point pre-written code might be useful, it likely won’t be compatible with what you have. A rewrite will be required, anyway.

Instead, focus on immediate needs. Brevity and focus are defining traits of modern software. Effective engineers will demonstrate these traits in their portfolios and work history, showing their potential to increase value through streamlined code. 

6. Branch your Feature Design

Feature design is one component of engineering and development that often causes problems. Teams operating on the same code on different features end up having to work around the changes and bugs created by others. This is another reason elements like version control and modular functionality are best practices of modern code.

Software engineers should be experienced in designing features on separate branches of code and merging them compatibly with the larger project. This will help with the longevity of your software projects and improve the overall quality of the code.

Branched feature design can also assist with project management in a remote work environment, as team managers can more easily assign tasks and check-in for updates with clearly defined roles. 2021 and beyond will require software engineering best practices like this to smooth the functionality of the new workplace. 

7. Adapt to Hybrid and Remote Work Options

Finally, a best practice of software engineering right now is allowing and encouraging remote work. Remote engineers have higher rates of productivity and fewer sick days than their on-site counterparts, allowing for faster software development and testing times. This policy can also be vital for keeping engineers safe during the public health crisis. 

For any new software engineer, being comfortable with an often-virtual workspace will help prepare you for the future of business. Additionally, skills and experience in cybersecurity can boost an engineering project and better ensure the digital safety of remotely connected offices.

The pandemic has created an epidemic of cybercrime. Engineering solutions will be necessary to combat hackers and secure vulnerable data even with the added risk of remotely connected networks.

The post-pandemic workplace requires remote options. Software engineers that can both work in and secure these environments have a leg up on the competition and can maneuver for higher-paying work.

Preparing for the Future

2021 will require software needs at an unprecedented scale. With the global shift to more common remote work, virtual spaces for all kinds of meetings and business are opening up. More people now shop online more frequently and have a greater reliance on the internet.

All this translates to a larger demand for software and while facing a shortage in skilled labor.

In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that by 2026, the shortage of engineers will mean 1.2 million needed professionals. Remote hiring and work, however, makes it easier to find these skilled workers, the world now less limited by geographical location.

Prepare for the future now by ensuring your team is staffed with a knowledgeable software engineer. These seven best practices can help you keep up-to-date with the most modern trends and ensure relevance in an increasingly digital world. 

If you’re looking to hire a top software engineer, contact us! At DistantJob, we are devoted to helping companies get the talent they deserve. And by talent, we mean not only someone with the experience and skills but also someone who adapts to your company values and beliefs.

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Jori Hamilton

Jori Hamilton

Jori Hamilton is an experienced writer residing in the Northwestern U.S. She covers a wide range of subjects but takes a particular interest in covering topics related to remote team management, employee recruitment, and business productivity. To learn more about Jori, you can follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.