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The importance of clean code


CSS: Visual Optimization

with Justin Seeley

Video: The importance of clean code

The importance of clean code provides you with in-depth training on Web. Taught by Justin Seeley as part of the CSS: Visual Optimization
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Watch the Online Video Course CSS: Visual Optimization
Video Duration: 3m 36s1h 11m Beginner Feb 12, 2013

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Take a tour of a workflow that optimizes CSS code for easier navigation, organization, and readability. In this course, author Justin Seeley covers best practices for writing CSS in an easy-to-read format, commenting code, developing a table of contents, and adopting other methods that help produce "cleaner" code. The course also contains tips for speeding up development with some online tools and simplification techniques.

Topics include:
  • Exploring good versus bad style sheets
  • Creating section headings
  • Indenting code for enhanced readability
  • Creating single- and multi-line comments
  • Avoiding unnecessary tags and classes
  • Creating master color and typography guides
  • Simplifying comments
Justin Seeley

The importance of clean code

Before we actually get started learning how to write cleaner code, it's important to understand exactly why we're doing it. In this movie I'm going to talk about the importance of clean code and why you should focus more of your attention on writing this way in the future. So why should you keep it clean, as they say? Well, first and foremost, writing clean code makes your code more accessible, and I'm not just talking about for you, but for other designers and developers as well. Also, if you're developing consumer facing products like themes for a CMS--like let's say WordPress for instance--you want your code to be easily read by even the greenest of web designers so that they can make changes on their own without having to send you an email or fill up your support forms with requests.

In addition to helping out others, you'll also find that writing optimized code and sticking to a template will help you start new projects and edit existing ones more efficiently. Think of it this way. If you've defined a structure for all of your CSS documents, you can develop a template document that can easily be used each and every time you start a new project, making it easier to get started writing out your code. Also, by using a structured layout to your CSS code, you will automatically know where certain elements are and where they start and stop in your CSS docs. This means that you can easily go in and edit them whenever you need to.

Now you might be asking yourself exactly what makes CSS more readable. Well, here are a few points related to that, and we'll cover more of these and more as we go throughout the course, but these are the main ones I'd like for you to focus on. Number one, ordering your CSS properties consistently. So what this is going to do for you is give you a basic template for your CSS declarations and allow you to easily write and edit blocks of code in a more efficient manner. Also, you should consider indenting your child elements in CSS, because this is a great way to show dependencies in your code, and it'll make it easier for you to spot these child elements during the editing process. The third point is really a no-brainer.

If you're not already using shorthand for things like Hex codes, margins, and padding, you're kind of late for the party, but lucky for you the party is still going on so you don't have to worry. It's never too late to start. Using shorthand is a great way to cut down on development time and also page load times as well. Commenting is by far one of the best ways to explain the structure of your CSS documents. Comments allow you to distinctly identify separate areas of your codes like headers, footers, body areas, et cetera, as well as things like color and typography sections.

This makes it easy for someone to come in, find what they need, and easily make changes to the code that you've written. It also makes it easy for you to do that as well. Finally, you should focus on using your whitespace effectively when coding. Whitespace refers to things like tabs, spaces, and line breaks, and it's important to the readability of your code. However, too much whitespace is a bad thing, and it can add a bit to the page weight. Every space, line break, and tab that you can safely eliminate is like having one less character for the browser to parse. We'll talk more about whitespace later on, but just know that there's a fine line that you have to walk between too much and too little whitespace when it comes to the readability and the efficiency of your code.

Now hopefully we understand that writing clean code helps us in many ways, including file size and readability, but it also helps other people like consumers and developers just as much as it helps us. It's also good to note that once you've developed a disciplined style of coding your CSS that can be easily translated into other coding languages like HTML and JavaScript or any other language for that matter. In the end, writing clean code insures not only that you're enhancing the end user and developer experiences, but it also makes other people and hopefully you, appreciate your work more and will earn you some serious respect for your efforts.

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