Code Reuse – What Is It and How Does It Benefit Programmers?
Accuracy and speed are the two most important virtues that modern-day applications need in order to succeed. As consumers across the globe demand products that provide value for their hard-earned money, innovation has become necessary for businesses that want to stay competitive.
For software developers, code reuse helps simplify and speed up software production as well as rectify the technical challenges associated with businesses. However, to reuse the code effectively, one has to understand its nuances.
In this post I’ll show you all about code reuse. From what it is and what benefits it has, to when it’s best to avoid it and why, you’ll find all the information you need to optimize your workflow.
What Is Code Reuse, and When Is It Possible?
Code reuse is also known as software reuse. As the name suggests, it is the art of reusing existing (already written) code either from external sources or from one’s own past projects to develop new software.
Programmers perform this action to get the same or similar functions. Nevertheless, only quality code (with no bugs or complexity) can be reused. Quite simply, if the code has flaws, it will not be reliable, secure, or safe.
Developing fast, reliable, and secure software consistently requires a lot of programming skills and knowledge. Thus, developers need to analyze the conditions and requirements of an app before going ahead with its code reuse. In a nutshell, conditions favoring code reuse include the following:
- When the code is transferred to different hardware.
- If the code is devoid of defects that impact the security and safety of the application in the long run.
- When the code can be extended and accepted in the new application easily.
With these in mind, let’s now see some of the benefits of reusing code.
Benefits of Code Reuse
There are many advantages in reusing code, having to do with speed as well as quality. Let’s look at them in more detail.
Drastic Reduction in Overall Development Time
Enterprises aim for quick software development, as it leads to shorter time-to-market, benefiting their businesses. Thus, rapid app development is essential for businesses because they wish to get the “early-bird advantage” in the market and stay ahead of their peers.
With code reuse, programmers don’t have to start everything from scratch while developing a new app. Since they can use the same code for similar features in different apps, it drastically reduces overall app development time.
In addition, tools such as Python Package Index and GitHub assist developers to find the already available code for new software. With extra time saved from basic coding, developers can devote their time to writing new, unique code to add more value to the product.
Reduced Cost, Improved Product
Along with reducing overall app development time, code reuse also helps maintain the app development budget. As developers can use preexisting code, businesses don’t need to use extra resources, thus keeping the app development cost in check.
Moreover, if required, the time saved by not writing the same code repeatedly can be invested in writing unique code to improve the quality of the product. The only requirement for good reusable code is that it needs to be safe and secure.
Enhanced User Experience
Code reuse can play a very important role in enhancing the user experience and increasing the user retention rate. Since the reused code is safe, secure, and reliable, it will add more value to the app’s functionality. In addition, as there is less code, the chances of its having flaws are reduced.
Moreover, with less code, having a simple and easy to understand application is more likely. Such an enhanced user experience leads to more engagement and revisits which, in turn, serve the purpose of building the business software.
Avoid Code Bloat
Efficient and systematic code reuse can help avoid the problem of code bloat, that is, a situation where there are excessive computer instructions and source code. Any code is regarded as bloated when it is unnecessarily long and wastes many resources to handle.
Efficient use of resources is the highest priority to the app development process. Thus, the key here is to share the code systematically across all systems as a single component to avoid unwanted functionality in the code.
When Is Code Reuse Avoided?
Code reuse is not suitable for all projects. Thus, the onus is on developers to first assess the conditions and then go ahead with the code reuse.
Generally, it’s best to avoid code reuse altogether if developers can only use a part of the code, as in that case it’s likely to lead to quality problems that would bring the opposite result: losing time and creating a buggy product.
In such cases, it’s likely preferable to recognize the app’s basic functionality, that is, understand what the code does and then create new code that performs the desired behavior.
Disadvantages of Code Reuse
Along with the high-flying advantages, there are some drawbacks to code reuse as well. But businesses should also understand that the drawbacks of code reuse are often dependent on the situation at hand. For example, a third-party library might be less robust, but it reduces programming time as compared to a custom library.
Here are some of the disadvantages of code reuse.
The performance of the framework or the library depends on two important factors:
- Programming language
Therefore, there might be instances where the framework might work slower than expected, which could hamper the overall performance of the app. Thus, in this situation, it is advised to build a specialized solution instead of going for a common library.
Moreover, if you are working within a local system, access to the APIs over the entire system can sometimes be slower than solving a problem. In addition to the APIs slowing down the system, the system of modularity has a tendency to create a bottleneck as well.
No Control Over Third-Party Solutions
Lack of control over third-party solutions can have negative results in the long run. There can be technical problems such as:
- Not enough security testing.
- Problems in adding desired feature enhancements.
In addition to the technical problems, there can be liability and licensing issues as well. Reusing code is not as secure as newly written code complying with safety standards.
Challenges in Reusing Code
The challenges involved in code reuse are operational as well as technical. We will have a detailed look at both types of challenges below.
While developing reusable code, the project manager needs to add additional resources at the beginning of the project itself. Thus, the project manager must have both long-term and short-term plans in mind.
For short-term benefits, the project manager must quickly design software that can meet the client’s expectations; for long-term benefits, they must look at proper documentation, design, and quality of the code.
Moreover, for planned code reuse, developers need extra time to write the documentation for the code. And for this, they need to test the code thoroughly. Needing extra time, developers may find it difficult to meet deadlines if they are working on strict schedules.
Developers need to ensure the efficiency as well as the reliability of the code in order to reuse it. Code efficiency can be increased by improving memory, utilization, and response time and by monitoring the processor.
In addition to the code being efficient, it needs to be maintainable as well. A simple yet effective way to check whether the code is maintainable is to ensure its compliance.
Best Practices for Code Reuse
Code reuse has a plethora of benefits. But if developers do not implement best practices, they cannot maximize the benefits. To help you, I have listed a few of the best practices for code reuse.
Monitor the External Components in Code Reuse
It is always important for programmers to manage the patches in code reuse. Monitoring the external components means that the developers will get notified whenever a vulnerability is detected. Moreover, monitoring also allows the developers to fix problems before any malware strikes.
So make sure that you have a documented procedure that shows how to implement the patches in time.
Code Reuse From Trusted Sources Only
Reusable code must always be from the authentic library that has a large number of active users. If the library is engaged, the developers can deal with exposed vulnerabilities in a better way.
On the other hand, if you use non-reliable source code, it can damage your product and the reputation of your business.
Educate Your Developers
A major change in the process can be the result of a mindset shift. It is necessary to educate your developers about the importance of security. Therefore, with apt knowledge and understanding, they will make better decisions while choosing reusable code.
In addition, basic training in code security will allow the developers to create more secure code.
Documentation of the software supply chain is a very important practice that helps in maximizing the benefits of code reuse. Moreover, proper documentation is essential for large enterprises, as they deal with many third-party components; otherwise, there is a high chance of losing track of where the code is reused.
Reusing Code Can Help You Optimize
As I showed you in this post, reusing code can help you optimize your process by reducing development time, making sure you have a robust product, and even assuring you stay within budget constraints.
Of course, not all circumstances favor code reuse. As we saw, sometimes you simply need to create something for scratch. Moreover, code reuse does have some disadvantages too, that might or might not be applicable to you.
Though the final decision depends on you and your individual needs, following the best practices I shared with you can help you learn when to reuse code and how, and boost your productivity.