Program Development Style Conventions

Instructor: David Gloag

David has over 40 years of industry experience in software development and information technology and a bachelor of computer science

In this lesson, we'll take a look at program development and why program development style is important. We'll then discuss some conventions used in program development style.

Coding for Understanding

To the untrained eye, software program code can look like complete gibberish. Even for those that know how to write code, reading and understanding someone else's code can be daunting. You've got hundreds or thousands of code lines, a vast array of language-specific commands, and the individual developer's own unique approach to writing that code. It all adds up to a mess if care isn't taken. But what can you do about it? How do you bring order to something that is potentially chaotic? The answer can vary, depending on who you ask. But there is a common theme to any approach, apply structure to your program development.

What is Program Development?

Program development is the systematic process of creating a computer program. A program is a sequence of machine language statements that instruct a computer to execute some predefined task. Program development, or coding as it's sometimes known, is an iterative activity that involves continually entering, reviewing, and editing the text in a file or files. You can think of it like writing a document or creating an email. The only real difference is the intended target. Documents and emails are intended for people, programs are intended for computers. It is important to note that the text file created in coding isn't consumed directly by a computer, it must be translated first.

Program Development Style

Program development style is the application of formatting rules to the creation of code in order to improve readability. If you think about it, we do this kind of thing when we write regular text in a document. We collect words into sentences. We collect sentences into paragraphs. We might indent the first word of a paragraph to denote the start of a paragraph. We set margins on documents, and so on. Formatting rules such as these help us to make sense of the words in the document. Program development style performs the same function for program code.

Program Development Style Conventions

Program development style conventions vary greatly depending on the language used, the environment the developers work in, and to some degree, the knowledge and experience of the developers involved. This is to be expected because these conventions are not set in stone. Rather, they are guides meant to be used as needed. Here are some of the notable ones:

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