## DEV Community

Vedangi Thokal

Posted on • Updated on

# A Minimalist's Guide to Software Development: Less Code, More Elegance

💡
It's like Marie Kondo met your code and whispered, "Does this spark joy?"

In the world of software development, where complexity can easily get out of hand, we'll explore A Minimalist's Guide to Software Development, discussing how minimalism and simplicity can lead to cleaner and more efficient code.

At its core, minimalism in software development is about achieving more with less. It's about crafting code that is straightforward, concise, and easy to understand. This way you can give your intricate project a streamlined approach and maintain productivity (and a developer's sanity).

Consider the following Python example, which calculates the average of a list of numbers:

``````def calculate_average(numbers):
total = 0
count = 0
for num in numbers:
total += num
count += 1
``````

You can tell what this function does by looking at its name. But can you tell how it does it at a glance? No, right? In this non-minimalist code, the function's purpose is not immediately evident, and it involves unnecessary complexity. But now :

``````def calculate_average(numbers):
return sum(numbers) / len(numbers)
``````

This version is concise, highly readable, and achieves the same result. We know in a second that we are dividing the sum of a few given elements by the number of elements.

## A Real-World Example: Database Query

Imagine you need to retrieve all active users from a database.

``````import database

def get_active_users():
connection = database.connect()
cursor = connection.cursor()
cursor.execute("SELECT * FROM users WHERE status='active'")
users = []
for row in cursor.fetchall():
users.append(row)
connection.close()
return users
``````
``````import database

def get_active_users():
with database.connect() as connection:
with connection.cursor() as cursor:
cursor.execute("SELECT * FROM users WHERE status='active'")
return cursor.fetchall()
``````

The latter version not only reduces code length but also handles resource management more elegantly.

## Less Is More

You're packing for a vacation, and you're determined to travel light. You toss in your favourite T-shirt, a pair of sneakers, and your very important toothbrush. But then, You start adding five extra pairs of shoes, a collection of hats, and a hairdryer "just in case." Suddenly, you're sitting on your luggage which looks like it's about to burst at the seams, and you're not even sure where you're going.

Now, think of your software project as that luggage. Just as overpacking can lead to a chaotic and unnecessarily heavy suitcase, overloading your code with dependencies is like putting on a jet engine on your shoes. It might look impressive, but it's not practical.

### Avoid unnecessary dependencies

Only import dependencies that you actually need to accomplish the task at hand. Extra dependencies increase complexity and build potential bugs.

Don't 👏 Repeat 👏 Yourself. Extract reusable functions, variables and modules to avoid duplication.

### Write self-documenting code

Use expressive names for variables, functions and classes. This reduces the need for extensive comments, keeping your code minimal. Besides, less explaining means more time for coding (or enjoying your vacation).

## Other than that

### Documentation

While keeping code concise, ensure that it's well-documented to aid understanding and future maintenance. The vision of your code should be clearly conveyed in the documentation.

### Version Control

Utilize version control systems like Git to track code changes, making it easier to manage and collaborate.

It's not about saying less, but saying more with less. So, keep it clear, keep it concise, and let your code speak for itself. Happy coding folks! 🚀👩‍💻

## Let's have a chat!

.#GDG #GDGPune #blogathonS02 #devfest2023

Lev Nahar

Nice post, it’s a good read! This approach is okay as long as you don’t compromise integrity (e.g. I’ll just use this magic function and hope it’s efficient). Writing clean code has nothing to do with minimalism, in my opinion. A function can run loops and manipulate bytes and still be considered “clean code”. Wrapping logic with another layer of abstraction usually causes more trouble than it’s worth (although sometimes useful).

There is also the issue of over-generity where one function (or logic) handles a lot of cases and the tiniest change to one of them makes the whole application collapse (I have seen this so many times) - all for the sake of “generic” or “clean code”.

From my experience, most of the time clean code is the opposite - the explicit call to a very niche, isolated part of the code, that works as independently as possible even at the compromise of efficiency.

Your point about not having dependencies I completely agree with, but when wrapping everything in another layer of abstraction it is hard to maintain.

Thanks for sharing!

Vedangi Thokal

Certainly agree with what you said here. Thank you for your insights!

Vedangi Thokal

Thanks!

Worth mentioning The Zen Of Python. Just type

`import this`

in your Python REPL and enjoy all the best practices in Python

Vedangi Thokal

oh damn I was not aware of this! Thanks a lot for sharing

Papy-La-Taupe

although i globally agree, although i Strongly, as a junior dev, with the first point.

I don't think methods are more readables thant self-explainatory functions.
I REALLY don't think it's a good idea for a junior dev to use them.

If learners start using this way of coding in their beginner's work, the market will end-up flushed with 2-month JS/Python web"dev" straight out of bootcamps using a whole lotta methods but with zero concrete skill, and it will become extremely hard to get a job as a real junior (either college grad or serious autodidact), since the market will be satured with those "devs"...

Wait... o.o