Green coding - Tricentis: Testing times for suboptimal algorithms & code bloat

This is a guest post for the Computer Weekly Developer Network written by Mav Turner, chief product and strategy officer at Tricentisa company known for its software testing platform aligned to serve DevOps teams in Agile coding environments. 

Turner argues that while automated testing is vital for maintaining code quality, there exist several proactive measures developers can implement to enhance code efficiency, independent of test automation benefits. 

Turner writes in full below as follows…

Identifying common culprits

Inefficient code often arises from a myriad of factors, including suboptimal algorithms, poor resource management, redundant computations and inadequate memory usage. These inefficiencies can manifest in slow execution times, excessive memory consumption and increased energy consumption. By addressing these common culprits, developers can significantly enhance the performance and sustainability of their codebases.

With the continuous evolution of AI, developers need to stay alert to the potential for bloating caused by AI-generated code. Although AI-driven solutions offer the potential to automate repetitive tasks and enhance code generation, they can also introduce complexities and technical debt when not managed carefully. 

To navigate these challenges, developers need to adopt AI responsibly and seamlessly integrate AI-driven tools into their current development workflows. This approach allows developers to leverage automation advantages while proactively addressing the risks associated with code bloat.

Incorporating Test-Driven Development

Test-driven development (TDD) is a powerful approach that can significantly contribute to the creation of green code, characterised by higher quality and efficiency. By emphasising the creation of tests before writing code, TDD ensures that developers have a clear understanding of the expected behaviour and functionality of their code from the outset.

This proactive approach encourages developers to consider edge cases, error conditions and performance considerations upfront, leading to more robust and resilient code. Through the iterative cycle of writing tests, implementing code to fulfill those tests and refactoring as necessary, TDD promotes a continuous focus on code quality and maintainability. By consistently running tests throughout the development process, TDD helps identify and prevent defects early, resulting in cleaner code that is less prone to bugs and easier to maintain over time. Ultimately, TDD fosters a culture of excellence and accountability within development teams, leading to higher code quality and improved overall software reliability.

The roots of code bloat

Code bloat typically stems from several sources, such as overly verbose syntax, redundant or unused features and lack of optimisation during development. Additionally, legacy codebases may accumulate technical debt over time, leading to bloated and convoluted implementations. By embracing clean coding practices, modular design principles and regular refactoring, developers can mitigate code bloat and maintain leaner, more manageable codebases.

The choice of programming language can profoundly impact code efficiency and developer productivity. While modern languages like Python offer concise syntax and extensive libraries, transitioning legacy estates to newer languages may not always be feasible or practical. Instead, developers should focus on leveraging language-specific optimisations, adopting best practices and exploring performance-enhancing frameworks and tools tailored to their chosen language ecosystem. Inefficient code has far-reaching implications, especially in modern enterprise environments characterised by cloud computing and distributed systems. Excessive CPU/GPU cycles, bloated storage requirements and inefficient network utilisation can lead to increased operational costs, diminished user experiences and scalability challenges. 

By optimising code efficiency, developers can minimise resource waste and improve the overall sustainability of their applications.

Snappy syntax advocate: Mav Turner, chief product & strategy officer at Tricentis.

Observability tools play a crucial role in identifying performance bottlenecks, resource utilisation patterns and over-provisioned deployments. In the context of Kubernetes and microservices architectures, observability solutions offer insights into container orchestration, service dependencies and resource allocation, enabling developers to fine-tune their deployments for optimal efficiency.

Balancing centralisation & efficiency

Although Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) solutions provide convenience and scalability, improper management can lead to increased complexity and overhead. Developers must find a middle ground between centralisation and efficiency by harnessing cloud-native technologies and automation frameworks. This enables the streamlining of deployment processes, optimisation of resource usage and reduction of operational burdens.

Assessing code cleanliness and efficiency demands a comprehensive strategy, incorporating analysis of code complexity, performance profiling and adherence to coding conventions. Utilising tools such as static code analysers, code coverage metrics and linter plugins can offer valuable insights into code quality and pinpoint opportunities for enhancement. Moreover, instituting internal coding guidelines and facilitating code reviews can foster a culture centred on quality and accountability among development teams.

Self-policing & external standards

Although self-policing empowers developers to assume responsibility for code quality, setting external standards and guidelines offers a reference point for evaluation and encourages the adoption of industry-leading practices. Whether it’s through internal code inspections, peer evaluations, or adherence to recognised standards like ISO 25010 (Software Quality Model), organisations can uphold quality benchmarks and maintain uniformity across their code repositories.

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