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Conventionally speaking: why coding standards matter

Coding conventions are essential for ensuring consistency and maintainability in your data team's codebase. Here are some tips for creating manageable coding conventions:


1. Start with a style guide: Create a style guide that outlines the coding conventions your team should follow. This can include guidelines for naming conventions, indentation, comments, and formatting. The style guide should be clear and concise, with examples to illustrate each guideline. If you’re just starting out, it can be daunting to think of creating and applying all conventions at once. Instead, start with the absolute must-haves. Then, as your team grows and your codebase becomes more mature, you can start adding more.


Some additional resources:


2. Make it easy to follow: Ensure that the coding conventions are easy to follow. Avoid overly complex guidelines that are difficult to remember or implement. Use automation tools, such as linters or formatters, to help enforce the conventions and make it easier for team members to comply.

SQLFLuff is a dialect-flexible and configurable linter, which also works with Jinja templating and dbt. Another great option for dbt users, is the pre-commit-dbt package. It allows you to ensure all your conventions are enforced without the need to run additional commands. There are some pros and cons to both, so make sure you do your research before choosing which to implement.


3. Involve the team: Involve the entire team in the creation of the coding conventions. Seek input from all team members and consider their feedback when developing the guidelines. This will help ensure that the conventions are practical and relevant to the team's work.


Have regular operations meetings to revise existing conventions and add new ones. Remaining iterative as your team and capabilities evolve is a huge advantage to maintaining manageable conventions.


4. Provide training and support: Provide training and support to help team members learn and follow the coding conventions. This can include code reviews, training sessions, and documentation. Ensure that team members have access to resources that can help them comply with the conventions, such as Github PR checklists, and Confluence articles.


By following these tips, you can create manageable coding conventions for your data team that will help ensure consistency and maintainability in your codebase.


What conventions do you have in place with your team?


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