For most of my coding life, I have been the only user of my programs. I wrote them to aid my work or personal life, and only rarely did anyone else even see my code or watch it run. This wasn't on purpose. It just turned out that way. In my current job I do belong to a small development team, but our programs are still only for in-house use, so the only needs we have to consider are our own.
This situation is starting to change. My programming projects are becoming more relevant to the outside world, and I want to share some of them as open source. This means I'm needing to reshape some of my programming practices and learn some areas of software development I've had the luxury of ignoring all these years.
I haven't completely ignored these areas, though. I pick up on them here and there as I read about how other people code or as I see them in the software I use. Knowing that I'll probably need to know about them someday, I've kept a list. And now the time has come for me to fill in the details.
I'm filling in the details here in this guide for two reasons. First, as I learn, writing helps me clarify my thoughts and keep them flowing. And second, posting my writing might help other people. So if you're like me and you've programmed mainly for yourself--what I call private coding--and you're starting to share your work with others--public coding--then maybe what I've learned so far can grease some of your own planning.
This project consists of my reading other developers' advice, examining their code, deciding what to adopt and how to adapt it to my needs and preferences, and creating templates, procedures, reference materials, and anything else that might help me code well for a public user base.
This guide will be oriented toward Python for now, but I imagine a lot of its suggestions apply to other languages too. At this point it also centers around desktop command-line programs, but I'm hoping to expand it into other interfaces and environments.
Since this guide is a place for me to learn, I welcome feedback, and I'm always open to arguments that my choices could be improved or suggestions for things I've missed.
This is an early iteration of the guide, so it's incomplete, and a lot of it is only sketched out.
- Software Development Methodology
- Version Control
- Code Style
- Project Structure
- User Interface
- Application Configuration
To show how I'm implementing these ideas in my own code, I'll refer to my GitHub repositories throughout the guide, mainly my templates for cookiecutter, a Python app that creates project skeletons for any language, and my snippets for Sublime Text 2, the text editor I use. Snippets are templates Sublime inserts wherever you type the corresponding trigger strings.
Here are projects that show up in lists of high quality code, so I'll examine some of them and include any relevant discoveries in the guide. All the projects I'm listing for now are in Python.
In addition to these, I keep a mental list of software with features I might want to emulate, even if I don't plan to study their code very thoroughly:
- Firefox - automatic updating; possibly its add-on architecture, if it ever settles down
- WordPress - plugin hooks
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