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JavaScript Programming Styles: Best Practices

JavaScript Programming Styles: Best Practices

When programming with JavaScript there are certain conventions that you should
apply, especially when working in a team environment. In fact, it is common to
have meetings to discuss standards to follow. The reason is that code is much
more readable when certain standards are followed. We have already seen in
another article some of the worst JavaScript practices, explaining certain
things to avoid. But when we talk about good practices we are not only
referring to those that have a better performance, but also to the way you
program. In addition to making sure that the code is syntactically correct,
you should also be concerned about styles; that is, things like where you
place the opening and closing braces or the spaces you use as indentation or
indentation in the code.

What are programming styles

Programming styles are nothing more than an agreement you make with your team
and yourself about the styles and standards you will follow in a project. The
goal of following a style is to achieve a consistent result, with code that is
easy to understand and maintain. Even if you are working alone on a personal
project you should follow certain standards. You may not see why during its
initial release, but you will when you modify the code in a few months or when
another programmer starts working on the project as well.

The importance of styles

Programming is something similar to craftsmanship, where factors such as
creativity, perseverance and expertise come into play. For example, you can
paint a wall and leave it smooth, with everything perfectly clean around you,
or you can paint the wall with irregularities or hand marks, fill the floor
with paint, and leave it all over. The same thing happens with programming,
becoming even more important, because when many programmers modify the same
code over and over again, if each one applies his own rules, the result may
look more like the second case.

It is very common that some inexperienced programmers do not care about this,
since they have not yet been able to understand its importance. I was also one
of them and absolutely all programmers have been. Besides, it is in this kind
of little things where the team leaders will perceive your experience.

Sets of style standards

There are different sets of standards that you could follow. Each company has
its own, and that is what styles are all about, following the same ones within
the framework of a company or project, without there being a set that is
better or worse. Here are the two most famous sets of styles:

In my case, the styles I follow are very similar to AirBnb's, as they are the
ones I've gotten used to in the companies I've worked for. If you prefer
another set use it, but don't change it until you finish the project.
You also have the option of using tools like ESLint or Prettier, which somehow
force you to use certain rules.

Method, function and variable notation

There are different types of notations that you could follow when defining the
names of functions and variables. The most famous are the following:

Camel Case: This style combines the words of the names you
define, setting the first letter of each word to be capitalized except for the
first word, with the rest of the letters being lowercase. If you wanted to
define an account management function using Camel Case, its name would be

Pascal Case: This style combines the words of the names you
define, establishing that the first letter of each word is in upper case,
including the first word, the rest of the letters being in lower case. If you
wanted to define an account management function using Pascal Case its name
would be GestionDeCuentas.

Snake Case: This style combines the words of the names you
define, setting all letters to lower case and all words to be separated by an
underscore. If you wanted to define an account management function using Snake
Case its name would be account_management.

Kebab Case: This style combines the words of the names you
define, setting all letters to lower case and all words to be separated by a
hyphen. If you wanted to define an account management function using Snake
Case its name would be account-management.

There is no better method, although the truth is that in JavaScript the Kebab
Case would be practically discarded. The usual is to use Pascal Case for class
names and Pascal Case for almost everything else, although there are many
developers who prefer to define variable names with Snake Case. If you want
more examples, see the guide with the different types of notation for names.

Rules to use: Yours

That's the way it is and will be as long as you are consistent. Here are mine,
which although they are very similar to AirBnb's, they don't coincide 100%:

Semicolons: Many developers choose not to put them at the
end of each line, although in my case I use them religiously at the end of
each line to avoid possible problems that could occur in some cases.
Spaces: I always prefer to use more spaces than less. I
usually use them whenever I close a parenthesis unless it is the end of a line
and also before and after the symbols of arithmetic operations such as +, -, /
or *, checks or conditions.

Blank lines: I use a line break to separate blocks of code
that deal with different logical operations. This way I think it is easier to
read the code.

Indenting: I use 4 spaces instead of pressing the tab key. It
is also common to use two spaces.

Line length: The length of my lines does not exceed 120
characters. Many developers opt for 80 characters, but I find it too short. I
have a bad habit of using lines that are too long.

Comments: I usually use comment blocks to document the code, and in case of commenting something, I write the comment in the line above the one I want to comment instead of writing it at the end of the line. In the same way, I only write the comments that are necessary. That is, I don't use comments when the code blocks that follow the JSDoc standard are sufficient or when the variable names make it very easy to understand what I want to do.

Variable declarations: I never declare variables with var. I use const when a value or reference is not going to change, and let when I want to declare a variable. I always declare constants first and then variables, being both at the beginning of the document in the case of global variables, or at the beginning of functions, in the case of local variables. This way we avoid the unwanted effects of JavaScript hoisting.

Function structure: I use arrow functions whenever possible because of the treatment of this. Sometimes, as in the case of constructors, it is not. Whenever I can, I define functions like this:

const miFuncion = (a, b) => a * b;

Variable names: I always use Camel Case, although until not too long ago I used Snake Case. This is an example of camelCase

Class names: In this case I use Pascal Case, both in the class name and in the name of the file that includes it. This is an example of PascalCase.

Single or double quotes: Whenever possible I use single quotes instead of double quotes. I usually reserve double quotes for HTML attribute tags, so that if I have to insert JavaScript inside them, I can do it with double quotes. I also apply this criterion with other programming languages such as PHP.

Template Literals: These are expressions that use inverted quotation marks to define strings. Whenever I have to insert variables in text strings, I use these quotes, inserting the variable in the middle. In the following tutorial you can find more information about template literals. Example:Here I am inserting a ${variable}` .

Function and method names: As in the case of variables, I use Camel Case for both functions and methods of classes. Example: CamelCase.

If statements: In this case I usually use two varieties, since I can place the statements in one or several lines depending on how long they are:

// If normal 
if (condition) {    
  // code
// If con un else 
if (condition) {    
  // código 
} else {    
  // code 
// If with several else 
if (condition) {    
   // code 
} else if (condition) 
  // code
} else {    
// code }

In the case of very short statements, I use a single line. This is something quite criticized by some developers but I find it very readable as long as the statements are very short, like when you make assignments to a variable. In any other case I use several lines:

// If normalif (statement) variable = true; 
// If with one else 
if (statement) variable = true;  
else variable = false;

Switch statements: In this case I always define a default condition and also use several lines:

switch (expression) {    
case expression:      
// code   
// code 

For loops: I always use several lines. In this case I always initialize the element defining the loop iterations in its own definition. I consider this better than inserting it in the condition. I separate the different elements of the loop definition by a ;:

for (initialization; condition; update) {    
// code

While loops: I always use several lines:

while (condition) {
  // code

Do while loops: I don't usually use this loop too much. In several lines:

do {
  // code
  } while (condicion);```

Try/catch/finally statements: This is how I define them:

// try catch
  try {
  // code
  } catch (error) {
  // code

// try catch finally
  try {
  // code
  } catch (error) {
  // code
  } finally {
  // code

Whatever style you choose, remember that the important thing is to be consistent and maintain it throughout your project.

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