Software quality control with code linters
04 Aug

Software quality control with code linters

Mahipal Nehra

Software quality control with code linters. Software quality control has always been an important and integral part of building and maintaining a software.Even though we have the sense of measuring the quality of a product by our own interpretations, it is not always possible to perfectly ensure the quality without conforming to the standards defined in the industry. Most of us are aware of the terminologies but do not know the key differences among them. This article is all about defining software quality control, pointing out the difference between quality control of software and software quality assurance and later we will use an example of code linters to signify a particular software quality control technique.

What is Software Quality Control?

Take for an example, a product you purchased from a shopping mart. What thing goes into your mind before and after you pick it up and pay for it?Obviously, youmay think of its quality, check for any flaws in it and only after using it finally, you decide how good or bad it is. This is from the buyers point of view i.e. the buyer is following a set of steps to make sure he/she is buying a proper product. The analogy we described can be applied to software as well. That was from the buyers context (the consumer). In the context of software, software quality control is set of procedures that the organisation’s key players use to ensure that their software product will meet the required quality.

According to Wikipedia’s  definition software quality control is commonly referred to as Testing.

Software Quality Control Vs Quality Assurance

It is hard to differentiate between the two terms just by looking at them, they seem synonymous.However, one is the subset of the other. If Software Quality Control is a set of procedures to follow while developing a software product and adhering to the software engineering principles then Software Quality Assurance is the means of monitoring the entire software development process. It includes the following phases:

  1. Requirements of software

  2. Software Design

  3. Writing Code

  4. Reviewing Code

  5. Version Control

  6. Testing

  7. Release Management

  8. Product Integration

Quality Control at the very basic level includes test cases written by developers /testers to use case of each module. Quality Analysts use applications to create good specifications and software design. Almost all companies have product/ project managers who decide whether or not the changes should be made to a feature or not depending on the review result. All these aspects of software engineering process is encompassed under Software Quality Assurance.

Read: Frontend Developer RoadMap 2020

Software for Quality Control

In today’s date there are software for pretty much everything and lots and lots of manual tasks are being automated day by day. How can you not expect to have a software for quality control in the software industry itself? Now, there are quite a number of premium software for quality control and it is not necessary that you will get a perfect solution for your company’s software quality control activities. Chances are high that you might need to consult someone for the best practices and suggestion for a legitimate quality control tracking software. Dassault is one example that creates QMS (Quality Management Software) for enterprises. You may find other QMS online as well, there are plenty.

So, this is the top view of developing a software product. But what about quality of code from the developer’s perspective i.e. when he or she is actually doing that work and they want to assure that they are doing the best from their side? How are they are able to detect syntactic or semantic error on the go, while writing some code?For that we have something called code linters.

Read: Database developer roadmap 2020

What are code linters?

Code linters are simply programs that point out errors in your code. We mentioned about syntactic and semantic errors that occur in code in the former paragraph. Syntactic error are like spelling mistakes i.e. when a programmer mistakenly misspells a variable name. Semantic errors are logic errors, you can think of it as grammatical errors in code i.e. when a programmer calls a wrong function or passes wrong number of argumentsto it or may be references an undeclared variable and so on.In order to get away from such minor mistakes, code linters come in very handy, they automatically detect errors in code and yell at the programmer by underlining the error line or create a pop up block in text editors.

Code Linters are language specific, Python’s code linter cannot be used to detect errors in a JavaScript source code and vice versa. The reason for that is Python and JavaScript are two different programming languages and both have their own way of declaring variable, functions and also have different syntactic taste. For example, python does not use braces at all for closing a statement whereas JavaScript does.

Read: What is the proxy design pattern in Java?

Examples of Code Linter – Python

If you are a python programmer, we have a list of code linter options for you, listed below.If not then you can help someone who are not aware of these. There are obviously other code linter options for other programming language as well. But we will stick to the two most popular in this article, namely JavaScript and Python.

1. Pylint

Visual Studio Code is a popular text editor that by default has the PyLint linter enabled for python.If you do not use VsCode, it can also be installed manually by following this guide.

PyLint will help you identify subtle programming errors or warn you against the unconventional coding practices.It is widely used and is the go to python linter for most python developers.

2. Pyflakes

Pyflakes is a simplistic program (code linter) that checks python source file for errors. You can install it using the pip command and read more about its specifications from pypi’s website.

3. Flake8

Flake8 is yet another tool that can help you perform linting, but it is one step ahead of all the above mentioned tools. It is a wrapper around PyFlakes and pycodestyle, it runs all the required tools with a single command “flake8”. Read more about it here.

Examples of Code Linter – JavaScript

JavaScript is very popular these days and since its inception outside of the browser world, its usage has peaked a new height. You will find a lot of linters for this programming language and we do have some popular options compiled down for you.

1. JSLint

JSLint is an online tool that allows you to paste in your JavaScript source code or a JSON object and it tells you exactly what stylistic error you have in your code. For example, if you write (var a =”hello”;) into the textbox and hit on the JSLint button, it may tell you that there is a space issue between the ‘=’ and ‘’hello” string.

2. JSHint

JSHint is also similar to JSLint but it has one additional characteristic that it can be installed as well. If you want to use the online version, you can do that otherwise you can install it using the node package manager (npm).

3. ESLint

Just Like Pylint is the most popular among python developers, ESLint has caught up the attention of JavaScript developers, specially after the ES6 syntax for JavaScript was released. It is a powerful code linter that does a lot of fixing automatically.

That’s all for this article, we hope that you got some idea about code quality and also how important it is for big companies to maintain their software’s quality. If they are not serious about software quality control then they might be losing some serious money. If you are beginning to write code or want to aware yourself with quality control, you should be aware of quality control tracking software, code linters, software quality control methods and the basics of practicing those techniques as well.

Read: When to Use Composite Design Pattern in Java

Posted by Mahipal Nehra | Posted at 04 Aug, 2020 Web