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Home -> Guidelines & Standard -> Software Coding Standard
Outsourcing software development to China - Software Coding Standard

Software Coding Standard

Software Coding Standards are important to produce a common 'style' throughout a project. This has many obvious benefits, especially for maintenance and code reuse. but for software quality assurance is vital because it reminds programmers to keep to coding policies and enables static testing to be effective. The only downside to coding standards are the egos of some programmers, however true programming creativity and elegance lies in the level above coding standards so egos should not be permitted to stand in the way of sound engineering.

Software coding standards must be related to both the programming language and the type of application. At the start of a software project available software coding standards should be reviewed and a suitable standard for the project adopted or developed. Of course in most cases the 'house' coding standards will be suitable but standards should never be followed (or rejected) blindly.

Software coding standards are usually divided into 'Rules' and 'Guidelines', however to help effective static testing 'Guidelines' should be treated as neo-Rules. Some typical classes of rules and guidelines are given in the following tables.


Rules (typical categories)

File comments (copyright notice, file contents)

Naming convention (related to type of programming element)

How code should be commented (extent and location e.g. pre & post conditions)

How programming elements should deal with error conditions

Whether defensive programming or aggressive error trapping should be used for entry and exit conditions


Guidelines (typical categories)

Source code file naming convention (e.g. package and file)

Specific documentation for methods and functions – parameters, return values, exceptions)

Inclusion of self test facilities in modules;

Rules for parentheses, location and use;

Use of constants

Use of new lines and tabs and indent length

Naming of classes (nouns) and methods (verbs)

For specific languages and applications areas these categories will expand to form a substantial guide. This will not stifle creativity but help remind programmers to consider all aspects of required programme behaviour, which is the basis of quality assurance.

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