Top 4 Powerful Principles of Software Engineering
Engineers working on software and web development projects are faced with challenges of various complexity levels, usually depending on the demand of the client and the specific project. To deal more efficiently with them, they’ve created the principles of software engineering. These principles have the goal of making creating, developing, testing, and maintaining software easier.
When developers stick to software engineering principles, they tend to create better software more effectively. By applying them to your everyday tasks, you’ll get more organized, become more confident in your work, and reduce the chances of unnecessary delays in your software development process.
In this blog post, we'll describe what software engineering principles are, explain why they are important, and highlight the four most essential ones.
What Are Software Engineering Principles?
Software engineering principles are a collection of philosophies and best practices created and recommended by world-renowned software development professionals to refine the methodology of software and web development.
They have been tried and tested over the years and serve as a manual for software engineers that helps them reduce all the complexities of various software engineering processes.
Why Do Software Engineers Need Principles of Software Engineering?
The principles of software engineering help software engineers write easy-to-understand, error-free, and fixable code. They also help improve the efficiency of the software development process.
By implementing these principles, it becomes easier and quicker to hit goals and milestones. With them, you’ll mitigate many potential errors and bugs, making top-notch software valuable to the end-users much faster.
4 Principles of Software Engineering
Software developers follow a lot of different principles. Here are some of the more essential ones that most software developers can apply to their work.
Keep it Simple, Stupid (KISS)
When writing code, engineers should always focus on keeping it as simple as possible. More often than not, projects are prolonged or even canceled due to the product and code complexity. And in practice, there are only a few projects that benefit from complexity.
The KISS principle highlights the importance of maintaining the utmost simplicity in every project. Simple is almost always better. The principle helps simplify your code to become easily understandable and fixable, which greatly influences the later stages of the software development lifecycle.
Using simpler and more comprehensible logic reduces the time it takes to work on your code. In addition, it makes it easier for other software engineers or teammates to understand your logic and how it helps them make the project successful.
To implement the KISS principle in your work, you should follow some of these techniques:
- Your methods and classes should be small, not exceeding 30–40 lines.
- Solve the problem first before coding; each method should solve one problem.
- If you have a lot of requirements in your project, break them into smaller blocks of code.
Simplicity is key. Don’t be afraid to rework, rewrite or cut down unnecessary code.
You Aren't Going to Need It (YAGNI)
YAGNI is one of the principles of software engineering that saves you time and energy. It was invented as a part of the extreme programming method, and it states that functionality should always be the priority. The main advantage of implementing this principle as a software engineer is that it helps you reduce excesses and focus on what is imperative to your end-users.
This principle helps you get better software development ideas. Sometimes you'll want to add features you feel would enhance your software, but in fact, they serve almost no purpose.
They may become useful to the users sometime down the line. However, the opposite is usually the truth, and you might end up deleting what you spent so much time coding.
The better approach is to build all necessary features and functionalities before considering what might be a good addition. Implementing only what the user wants keeps apps lean and straightforward while saving time, money, and other resources that would be spent on unnecessary development.
Don't Repeat Yourself (DRY)
In their book The Pragmatic Programmer, Andrew Hunt and David Thomas said that “every piece of knowledge must have a single, unambiguous, authoritative representation within a system."
By following this principle, we can easily conclude that any logic and algorithms that have a certain functionality should only be used once in a codebase.
Sometimes, developers unknowingly re-use the same code on multiple projects. The DRY principle of software engineering aims to help them stop repeating patterns and stop duplicating code from project to project and instead helps them focus on abstractions and avoiding redundancy. Any changes done to that code will also need to apply everywhere else — which takes more effort and time.
SOLID is a group of object-oriented design principles. It’s an acronym for:
- Single Responsibility Principle (SRP): SRP guides how modules, classes, and functions should operate by design. Each module or class should have only one responsible for part of the functionalities provided by the software. Classes or functions with single functionalities are more understandable, manageable, and customizable. Using single responsibility for your code also makes the code more organized and easier to read.
- Open and Closed Principle (OCP): Software design is usually done in stages. Development teams implement features, test them, and then deliver them to users. Then they move on to implementing the next set of features. On the premise of introducing new functionalities, OCP says that it's incorrect to change an already existing code or functionality. OCP also states that code can be open to extension but closed to modification. Instead, add an extension that introduces your proposed functionalities in place of changing a fundamental code. Composition and inheritance are the best approaches to adding new code without breaking the old one.
- Liskov Substitution Principle (LSP): This principle states that any inherited class should merely complement and not change or replace the behavior or function of the base class (parent class). Before including extensions, software engineers should test them and ensure they behave similarly to the base class. Inheritance codes should be applied contextually and moderately.
- Interface Segregation Principle (ISP): The interface segregation principles are a directive for how a class's component (client) should behave. According to the interface segregation principles, clients of a class should not have forced dependence on derived or impersonal methods. The regulation states that codes should only use intrinsic methods and approaches.
- Dependency inversion Principle (DIP): The dependency inversion principle aims to remove unfair coupling between software modules. The principle states that top-level modules should only depend on abstractions and not on low-level modules. Also, abstractions must be independent of details. But details must be dependent on abstractions. It takes a software engineer working at the interface level to get it right.
Principles of software engineering should serve as a guidebook that helps write clean code and create fantastic software.
Although it may be challenging to implement them in your everyday work, if you stick with software engineering principles in the long run, they will start becoming worthy. The more you use them when developing software, the faster and more effectively you will reach your goals and complete your projects.
Q1. What are the best software engineering principles?
Keep It Simple, Stupid, You Are Not Going to Need It, and Don’t Repeat Yourself are the best principles of software engineering because they trim off irrelevant unnecessities that would most likely delay the software development process.
Venkat Subramaniam, an award-winning author and software engineer, confirmed this during a talk at the GOTO Conference in 2018.
Q2. How many software engineering principles are there?
There are over 500 software engineering principles, according to this research. But in practice, software engineers usually implement those that have the best everyday applications — usually saving time and other resources.
Q3. What is the first principle of software engineering?
Keep It Simple, Stupid is the first principle of software engineering. It was originated by the late Kelly Johnson, the former lead engineer at Lockheed Skunk Works.
He advised his team that whatever they created should be repairable by someone with mechanic’s training and simple tools. If they didn’t do that, their creations would become practically useless in combat.
Decades later, this principle has proved effective beyond the design field and is still used worldwide today.
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