Computer Security, Programming, Technology, Tutorials, Web Security

How To Use Yoda Conditions To Eliminate Programming Bugs

July 25, 2017

During some point in your programming career trajectory, you will institute a bug in your software. Bugs are inadvertent, but they can precipitate critical damage to your application including security defects. One trivial bug is when the programmer employs the assignment operator rather than the conditional operator in an “if” statement. Every programming language has conditional operations. Thus, it’s a prevalent mistake when you hustle through your code.

Below is information on the “Yoda condition” and how it assists in eradicating these bugs:

Standard Programming Conditions

Standard condition statements are a component of every programming language. This article will use PHP to exemplify the issue and the solution. You may use this code in your preferred language regardless of the foundation deployed here.

Let’s take a look at the following standard condition:

$x = 4;

if ($x == 4)

{

    //do stuff here

}

The first statement applies the assignment operator. The second block of code refers to an “if” condition that states “Does x equal 4?” The “==” is the conditional operator that contrasts the left variable with the right numeric value. Supposing that the condition evaluates to true, then the statements inside the code block executes. If not evaluated to true, then the code after the ending bracket is executed. This is the underlying rationale of a condition statement.

A typical mistake that programmers conduct is unwittingly appropriating the assignment operator in the condition statement.

The outcome is the following code:

$x = 4;

if ($x = 4)

{

    //do stuff here

}

Recognize now that the condition includes “=” rather than “==” in the parenthesis. This is a mere typo, though it may be destructive on your code. A few languages will not compile or run the code. These languages respond with an error, but other languages will permit the statement to run. Two languages that will permit it are PHP and JavaScript. With these languages, Yoda conditions are advantageous.

Using The Yoda Condition Statement

The Yoda condition statement is a contentious approach to averting the typical bug from an assignment operator typo. Few programmers believe it’s inadequate code organization. Others perceive that it is beneficial. Prior to utilizing this statement, make sure to talk to your development team about this.

With the Yoda condition, you can prevent bugs from occurring and force a compiler error. The error will compel you to fix the assignment operator and alter it to a condition operator.

The subsequent code illustrates an example of a Yoda condition:

$x = 4;

if ( 4 = $x)

{

    //do stuff here

}

See that the variable and value positions are swapped in the condition. In this example, we see no error. Nevertheless, if the “x” variable holds any other value, the response shown would be an error. The Yoda condition name originates from the function where it alters the way the condition reads when a developer reviews your code.

It appears like a straightforward, unnecessary alteration in code, but the Yoda condition may drastically decrease the number of bugs brought in from unintentionally deploying the wrong operation logic in your code. Always remember to enforce it only if your team agrees.

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