Code reuse is a widely adopted technique in the tech industry to achieve high efficiency, particularly when using open source frameworks. The concept of code reuse can be applied in two ways:
- Reusing code that you have written
- Reusing external code for your own projects.
To meet the increasing demand for smarter products and software, it is crucial to ensure that the code you reuse is safe and of high quality and that the libraries you reuse are secure and trustworthy.
Code reusability can be applied across various platforms, including app development, product development, software development, embedded systems, and web development, and is practiced in numerous programming languages. Reusing code is a necessary practice in modern development environments to enable rapid development at a low cost. It is also possible to reuse various assets, such as applications, components, objects, or functions.
The Importance of Code Reusability
Code reuse is a vital practice in the tech industry, particularly in projects that use open source frameworks. There are two main approaches to code reuse: reusing code that has already been written and reusing external code for your own project. By reusing code, developers can save significant time that would have been spent on rewriting functionality from scratch. For example, a developer who spends weeks writing code for socket communication can reuse the same code in another project, leading to faster project completion times. Many organizations maintain shared databases of code components, with up to 80% of code blocks already built and shared among team members. Consistent code reuse provides scalability, gives developers full control over development, and reduces the risk of failure. Ultimately, code reuse leads to faster development times, improved consistency, and reduced risk of failure, making it a crucial practice in modern software development environments.
Classification of Code Reuse
To achieve faster development with fewer resources, there are various classifications of code reuse that organizations can implement:
Internal: Reusing an organization’s own components internally, which may involve copying existing code into new projects. Code redundancy must be carefully managed in this type of reuse.
External: Integrating third-party licensed components to reduce development costs. Teams must carefully analyze available options to ensure the best fit for product requirements.
Planned: Strategically designing building blocks of code to meet the future needs of the organization.
Opportunistic: Analyzing project requirements and determining which existing components can be reused in the initial stages of a project.
Referenced: Focusing on the form and structure of code, with reused code having a reference and a specific version.
Ways to Reuse a Code
There are several critical factors to consider when writing reusable code. However, these attributes alone are not enough unless they serve a comprehensive strategy. Here are some ways to make code reusable:
Dividing a software system into independent chunks that perform a specific function increases manageability and eliminates the need to repeatedly write code.
The way that two modules of a class or system cooperate to establish a sense of purpose. Cohesive code is reusable across multiple projects and can adapt to different environments.
Loosely coupled software modules
Code that is portable and unaffected by external linking. Developers need to manage a few links between functions and classes to strike a balance, as zero coupling is not a good option.
Creating modern utility classes can be used in multiple projects. Useful methods such as data formatting and sharing, validation constraints, image sharing, compression and image download, etc., can be added to these classes.
Ensuring flexibility in code allows it to be used in future projects with minor alterations and serve the required purpose without crashing.
Don’t write lines of code that are not needed and follow the DRY principle of “Don’t repeat yourself.”
One module performs one thing at a time
Each module should perform one thing at a time. For example, a method for file compression should only take a file as input and return the compressed form as output. This technique decouples the method from the rest of the project for efficient reuse.
Code Reuse Methodologies
There are numerous ways to reuse code without having to rewrite or copy/paste from existing sources. Below are a few common methodologies:
Inheritance is widely used in object-oriented programming (OOP) paradigms. Developers can easily reuse function overriding to make various methods work differently for multiple objects.
Dynamic linked libraries (DLL) are another concept to consider. DLLs have implications in .NET applications, and third-party libraries designed to perform specific functions facilitate code reuse.
Forking is a basic process in Git. It involves using someone else’s code by altering it to fit your own needs and distributing it further under your own tag. This exercise is useful for open-source projects, such as making modifications under the hood and creating a new framework.
With function calls, changes are made in one place and then reflected everywhere else where that function is called. This enables you to change the code just once to meet a user’s request.
There are many other methodologies to use under different paradigms, but the above are the most basic ones to give you an idea of the varying degrees of code reuse.
Code Reuse in Practice
Code reuse leads to high-quality end products developed in a shorter time. Large enterprises should document every third-party component and address vulnerabilities before use. Best methods for dealing with repetitive tasks include Git Submodules, RAD Stack, creating shared libraries, Monorepos, and Bit.
Git submodules create a subdirectory for another Git repository for shared code. It can be used in multiple projects, but creates coupling between projects and requires manual updates.
RAD stack (React Native and Django) supports all platforms and reuses common frontend components. Its open-source framework provides a vast collection of libraries, cross-site scripting, and scalable APIs. Add or remove services to build fast and future-proof apps.
Creating Your Own Libraries
Shared libraries hold the code to be reused in a warehouse image, but create redundancy across multiple projects and require complicated dependency management.
A single repository for multiple packages allows for keeping components together. Lerna helps to configure, unify, and publish multiple components but requires extensive refactoring and management of dependency graphs.
Bit controls unified code changes and component dependency trees for smooth code reuse. It defines and tracks shared components, displays their dependency graphs, and enables testing in an isolated environment. Changes can be synchronized for other projects by updating the version of the component.
Reusable code is crucial in modern app development. To make it easy and collaborative, create code as reusable segments, share them within your development community, and distribute them as open source for adoption and collaboration.