12 Tips to Become a Better Programmer
Programming is one of the most rewarding and interesting careers out there. Everyone has the potential to evolve their skillset and become a better programmer. Check out these tips and tricks for boosting your programming skills.
1. Problem Solving
Some people are born problem-solvers while some must learn the art of developing a solution from a given set of criteria. The best way to become a better problem-solver is to practice. The ability to take a large problem and break it into smaller pieces is something that can be taught and practiced. One example would be putting together a puzzle. You start with the flat edges and then work inward.
2. The Basics
Pick a language and code everything and anything. Practice coding and then practice some more. Learn data structures, algorithms, design, error handling, testing theories, and develop the ability to completely formulate a solution. If you learn the basics, you can easily learn any language that you want.
If you code regularly, you will very likely find yourself stumped at one point or another. If you practice good Google-fu, you can quickly figure out how to overcome most obstacles because someone out there has probably already been down that same path. Find a few good bloggers and follow them. You can learn technology by reading about other programmer’s solutions to complicated problems. Issue submission sites such as StackOverflow are also a great place to find solutions.
4. Constant Improvement
Realize that you will always be learning and don’t be arrogant. Keep trying to improve everything you do. Learn patterns, but don’t get bogged down in them and try to apply them to every situation when a different approach may be a better solution.
5. Listen to Other Programmers
Programmers work on all kinds of different projects. Listen to what they say and you will be able to quickly to determine which ones are the ones you should be listening to. Take note of their approach to solving problems and learn to incorporate those skills while developing your own style.
Most good programmers rewrite or rework their code multiple times. The most popular approach is to write a quick and dirty proof of the concept to prove that you can do it. Next, you make the code work. Finally, you rewrite the code to make it work the right way.
7. Read Code
Specifically, read code from as many different programmers as you can. You can then analyze their code and think about how you would have done it if you had written it. Doing this can also help you pick up good practices and habits from more experienced programmers. The best experience I ever had was working on a huge piece of enterprise-level software with hundreds of other developers. I had to read their code and add to it or fix bugs that appeared later or completely rework it to work with a new code piece. It helped shape how I do things as a programmer.
Learn how to do things right and not just learn how to use tools. Programming languages evolve and change and sometimes get replaced altogether. Programming is an art form. If you learn the concepts the right way, you will be able to apply to them to any language.
9. Keep Learning
Try to stay current on emerging technologies by subscribing to blogs, periodicals and taking classes. Technology is constantly changing, and if you don’t stay current and change with it, you will be left behind working on some dead-end piece of software that is boring and outdated. Here at ONLC, we offer classes to further your training on almost any subject.
10. Code Review
Always get someone else to read over your code and do the same for them. You may be so involved in the code that you can’t see potential problems that someone with fresh eyes and a different perspective might pick up on.
11. Unit Testing
Write automated tests to help you keep your old code working. When you have to change or add new code, it can break other code that was previously working. Unit tests can help you maintain your code health. Some programmers even write the test scenarios before they write the code.
12. Avoid Over Complication
Keep your code simple. Solve one problem at a time and make sure the code works. Don’t sit down and code your entire solution before firing it through the debugger. It will be too big and overwhelming. As mentioned above, break the problem into smaller pieces and solve it one at a time until you accomplish the objective. Making a checklist is a huge help.
There are obviously many things that you can do to become a better programmer, and this is just a small list of tips to get you started. Most importantly, just be conscientious and proactive and stay current by constantly learning new things.
If you’re ready to get started with your programming career or you want to just learn more, we offer training classes on almost every new technology discipline out there. Contact us today to see how we can benefit your programming and IT career.