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Tips to Becoming a Better Programmer
Programming, or coding, presents a lot of resistance to an average programmer, because mostly what you do in a professional job isn’t enough to make you a ‘better’ programmer. Apart from having a good understanding of various programming concepts, you still require a combination of skills and best practices to make it happen.
Here are some important tips on improving your programming skills:
- 1. Work On Basics
Strong understanding of the basics is a must. Without having a strong foundation, no programmer can fully utilize the beauty of coding. Reading definitions won’t be of any help unless you apply those concepts in designing a real-world solution.
If you really want to reach a level of proficiency in your technology, get hands on – write code and write more code then. This will help you realize your shortcomings and improve your ability with coding.
- 2. Read Voraciously!
Reading involves reading books, magazines, documentations, blogs, Twitter feeds, research and code. While books can tell you what is ‘good code’ and how to understand the difference between a good code and bad code. Popular books written by great programmers can be a great reference point every now and then.
Blogs, on the other hand, are usually short and help you get a personal view and experience on common programming elements. Also, they can be a great place to stay updated with new features of existing language and API. Follow blogs and respond to see different perspectives of the same technology.
- 3. Stay Active & Contribute To The Open Source Community
When you contribute to an open source project, you gain coding skills and self-confidence. It is equally important to pay attention to the feedback you get from users and from other developers. Even simply reading the open source code and exchanging ideas can help you understand various programming concepts in a better way.
- 4. Practice! Practice! Practice!
Code when you feel like, code when you don’t! Consistent practice helps you realize your mistakes and areas you lack understanding of, and then you can go back to improve those respective skills. Stick to rules like best-code-is-written-in-three-times; which suggest the first solution is just a prototype and proves that the solution is possible. The second solution is when you make it work, addressing issues and meeting requirements. The third time, you make it work right.
- 5. Read Code. Read Lots Of Code.
When you start reading code, like most of us, you are going to find it boring and certainly not among your favorite pastime things. If you do, do it anyway! Reading open source project code, fellow programmer code, or even code in popular programming books will help you better understand coding and develop a good code sense into you. Code sense can go a long way to developing your coding ability.
- 6. Review Your Code
Take code review seriously and always do a close and unbiased review of your code. Please don’t hesitate to take the others viewpoint on your work, if you really want to learn ‘better’ programming. Not only you will catch bugs in your own code in the review process, it can also spark critical discussions between fellow programmers. Take advantage of your reviewer’s experience and be receptive towards constructive criticism.
- 7. Keep It Simple & Short (Kiss)
The formula of KISS applies to almost every aspect of life, including programming. Avoid complexity by writing simple, logical code. Proficiency in coding does not lie in being capable of writing long, complex code snippets – simple and logical works best. You are just wasting your time trying to foresee project requirements by writing an overly complex solution for a problem that might prove to be different than what you are thinking it as now.
Here’s a wonderful quote supporting the KISS motto:
Any fool can write code that a computer can understand. Good programmers write code that humans can understand. – Martin Fowler
- 8. Work With Other Programmers (& Help Others)
When starting out in a programming career, try to work under senior developers, because they are people more skilled than you and can help you grow your abilities. Pair programming can be a great deal where you learn by getting instantaneous feedback from your fellow programmer.
Also, don’t forget you learn as a programmer by helping the other solve their problems. Understanding the others’ problem in their context and inspecting them to find suitable solutions, sometimes you get to see a problem from a different prospective.
- 9. Take On Big Projects. Get Uncomfortable.
Nothing can replace experience. The time you have spent on big projects, trying to tackle something new, getting uncomfortable with a complex problem, doing a lot of research and learning getting close to the solution – all these things will have a huge impact on your career as a programmer.
No matter what programming language you work with professionally, the bottom line to improve your programming skills remain the same. Considering the extensive use of Java in the real world, besides other languages like C, C++, PHP, this popular programming language is and will always be highly in demand for its flexibility and versatility in the programming world. Students and professionals can choose to do Java training courses and take certification exams to provide their skills to the employers.
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