Avoid These Code Complexity Pitfalls to Simplify Code Complexity

Every software developer appreciates writing code that is clear and straightforward to understand. Unfortunately, it is not always easy to get to this level of code simplicity. The reason being that the complexity of code may not be immediately evident to developers or the entire development team until it has gone through a certain number of stages.

Developers dedicate a significant amount of time to creating code and even more time to maintaining it. As the project progresses and objectives shift, the codebase changes and grows in complexity. Consequently, the codebase must be frequently updated in order to keep up with the project’s changing needs.

Upon further inspection of the code, developers often discover numerous lines of superfluous code. By the time this is uncovered, the code has usually become so complicated that it is beyond repair.

This post contains six tips to assist developers in understanding code complexity and simplifying their code.

Let’s start now.

Code complexity definition

The term “code complexity” refers to the number of features in your code. These characteristics govern how your code interacts with other code.

Code complexity could be intentional or unintentional.

Essential complication:

The addition of code to an existing program in order to make it more user-friendly can often lead to an unintentionally complex code due to the essential complexity involved in the process. Although this complexity may appear to be quite reasonable, it can still result in a program that is more difficult to use than the original.

Accidental complication:

Unintentional code complexity can be a frequent challenge in software engineering, arising from an inconsistency between user interface design and user action. End-users are usually unaware of this type of code complexity, however, this should not be overlooked by developers. It is important to assess the implications of accidental code complexity and take the necessary steps to ensure that it does not have a detrimental effect on the overall design.

The complexity of code that occurs unintentionally can impede the development of new features that would need to be integrated with existing designs. This can have a detrimental effect on productivity, as newly hired software developers may require a considerable amount of time to be able to familiarise themselves with the codebase.

What factors contribute to the complexity of a code?

Developing a complex codebase can be challenging, as it can be difficult to comprehend its intricate structure. To evaluate the complexity of the codebase, developers should take into account parameters such as readability, the ease of understanding it, and the ability to track the system.

When developers attempt to design the “ideal” system or create a complex architecture that is difficult to refactor, they primarily waste their time.

In certain scenarios, increased code complexity can be the result of the application of inadequate coding methods. For instance, software developers tend to keep abreast of the most modern programming languages and frameworks available.

What’s good for your developer resume isn’t always appropriate for real-world coding!

Simply put, prioritising newer solutions over tried-and-true approaches is not always a good idea in terms of architecture, engineering, or design.

Excessive simplification and excessively strict testing standards can make the software development process more complex. Developers should be aware that overly lenient testing regulations for code changes may lead to difficulties at a later stage of the development cycle.

How can code be made simpler?

When developing a feature-rich application or software, no code is easy to write.

Code complexity can be a major issue for developers, so it is essential to take caution when writing, testing, and upgrading code. To avoid complexity, developers should use extreme care and thoughtfulness when undertaking any of these tasks. This will help to ensure that code remains well-written and efficient, while still meeting the requirements of the end product.

Here are a few pointers to help you simplify and reduce code complexity:

  1. Is decoupling required for your code?

    Decoupling code can be a beneficial way of providing yourself with more flexibility where it is necessary. Splitting your code into distinct parts can add a degree of complexity to the process, but this can be offset by the increased control and scalability it can offer.
    Conducting large-scale refactoring can be a challenging task as a result of decoupling. This is due to the fact that the architecture of the system is highly fragmented, which necessitates engineers to create designs that are not intuitive or easily understandable. As a consequence, the overarching design of the system can become obscured.
    It is worthwhile to contemplate a balance between the convenience of a particular application and the general simplicity of the system, and evaluate whether it is always required. Taking the time to assess this balance could result in discovering a solution that allows for a better overall user experience.
  2. Adopt a minimalist approach.

    The addition of numerous dependencies to a project can result in a complex system. Therefore, it is imperative to only include dependencies and associated side effects when absolutely necessary for the project. Doing so will help to ensure that the project is as streamlined and efficient as possible.
    Libraries provide developers with a convenient way to avoid having to write code from scratch, however they can also add complexity to the system due to the fact that they remove the developer’s control over certain aspects of the code base.
    They may cause compatibility issues, as well as slowing or even crashing your computer.
    To simplify the code, developers should replace libraries with a few basic lines of code whenever possible. Leave them out if possible.
    If that isn’t possible, make sure the libraries are clearly visible in the code.
  3. Improve code readability.

    Rather than prioritising documentation, it is important to ensure that the code is clearly legible as code will never deceive. Developers should be mindful of the fact that documentation and comments may not always be accurate, whereas code will always be a reliable representation of the system’s behaviour.
    Due to the fact that documentation cannot always adequately replace code that is easily comprehensible, it is essential that code is written in a clear and concise manner. This not only ensures that the code is understandable and can be quickly modified and maintained, but it also saves time in the long run as there is no need to create additional documentation in order to implement changes.
  4. Take some time away from SOLID.

    It is undeniable that many developers have been influenced by Robert C. Martin’s (Uncle Bob) SOLID principles of object-oriented design. However, it is important to consider the context in which these principles were developed, which was the telecommunications industry. As such, it is important to recognise that the development of games and telecommunications applications have differing constraints and concepts, meaning that SOLID may not always be the most suitable approach. In some cases, SOLID can even add an unnecessary level of complexity to the codebase. Therefore, it is important to assess each situation on a case-by-case basis to determine the best approach.
  5. Recognise abstractions

    Prior to applying the Don’t Repeat Yourself (DRY) principle to your code, it is essential to recognise abstractions. This can be done by using examples to illustrate the connections between different elements. Once you have identified three to four instances of a repeated element, you can begin to modify the code so that it does not contain any redundant information. Additionally, it is important to avoid attempting to generalise the code in order to prepare for potential future needs. Instead, it is recommended that you make adjustments to accommodate reasonable expectations based on the current circumstances.
  6. Remove all unnecessary code.

    Even programs that are created with good intentions can be negatively affected by unneeded code. Unwanted code can often sneak its way into the system in small, seemingly insignificant pieces. Common contributors to this issue include superfluous classes, single-implementation interfaces, and design patterns that provide no additional value. As a consequence, developers must devote time to review their code, and identify and remove any elements that are contributing to code complexity.

Summary

The success of a software product is determined by its code, infrastructure, and architecture.

Code complexity can be intimidating to developers, but it doesn’t have to be as difficult as it sounds.

When it comes to managing program complexity, the size of your functions and procedures is almost all that matters.

Reduce the number of functions and methods you use. If they become too large, devise a method for breaking them up into smaller pieces.

Remember that code simplicity is essential for well-written, clean code.

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