How to become a better developer


Posted on March 20, 2019 by Aisah in Coding journey

How to become a better developer

A while back I came across this awesome post of a picture on instagram that listed 10 ways to become a better developer and it is only now that I realize that the picture has been cropped and only shows 8 ways. It is hilarious! I even reposted it and did not see that 9 and 10 are missing. It goes to show that we should all read a bit better if we want to become better at coding as a developer. We should read a bit better if we want to become better at anything we want to do.

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Moving on.

What I wanted to do for this post is: I wanted to take each of the points and try to give you my take on that. For the missing 9 and 10, I will add my own. Here we go:

  1. Read other people’s code

As a coder,programmer,developer that, at the moment, mostly works alone it is pretty intimidating to read other peoples code. You pretty much don’t know where to start and if you know the other developer is a few levels above you in experience the courage sometimes sinks to your shoes. However if you want to move past this you need to remember that reading other people’s code will help you better understand your OWN code and will improve your insight in what good quality code means.  I will end this with some insight into how to read other peoples code:

  • Find a thing you know the code does and work from there. For instance if you know what a certain button does. Try to find which file fires up that code. Look at the surrounding code that you now understand and try to figure out how that ‘fits’ and so on. This will lead you different areas of the code and will let you know how the code is organized
  • Find the main or index, where the code starts executing and how it’s setup. Look at the files that are being included, classed that are being instantiated and configuration settings. Maybe also how it is all written.
  • Read the comments if they are there. Figure out if they make sense and if you can use this to understand the algorithm and overall structure.
  • Learn to dig. If you are working with a mature database or software using “git blame” on a file will make you see what parts have changed recently or who has worked on this
  • Get familiar with the developer who wrote the code. It may not always seem like it but most programmers and developers are friendly people who are eager to help. And you can use us as a resource. The important thing in reading other people’s code is understanding the algorithm and knowing why somebody has made certain choices. You can know this by just asking.

 

  1. Ask someone to read your code

Asking someone to read your code. In my experience is a lot like asking out someone.

First you determine if it’s possible to ask this person. (Does he or she already have a girlfriend/boyfriend) or in other words does this person has the time? Is it appropriate to ask? If you already know this person you already know this answer.

Then If they say no, it is usually really because they don’t have any time. You should not feel rejected by this or make this hurt your self-confidence. If they said yes. Let them read your code. When you get the feedback. Try to get as much information out of the feedback as possible. Ask questions that you will think will benefit your code.

Then Repay or pay it forward: most programmers like a cup of coffee, but you can also offer to read their code and give your feedback in the most constructive way you know.

  1. Fix bugs

Some bugs you can disguise as  features but that is not always the case. Here are some steps to properly fix a bug. Steps are not always the same, but as you get more experience you will know intuitively which steps and clicks you must follow.

  • Make sure you can reproduce it. If you can’t ask the tester to help you. Depending on how important the bug fixing is.
  • Pinpoint where the bug in the code is. You may need to use a debugger
  • Make sure to understand the code involved in these steps
  • Change some of the inputs that produce the bug to understand the code better
  • Run the code and see if it works

 

  1. Learn a new technology

The list for learning new technologies can be endless. My advice for this (especially for newbies, and in most cases everyone that is learning is a newbie) is to try and choose a technology that falls into the category of  the “next-step” in your coding journey. When you have chosen your new technology, make an approach (plan) so that you can stick to finishing to lean at least the basics of the technology before you move on to another technology.  An approach that has been working well is to look at the overall topics of the technology and divide the learning bits into little chunks of maybe an hour, (or per topic). The dividing in little parts is so that the amount of learning or practicing does not seem overwhelming to start with.

 

  1. Keep it simple

Or KISS (Keep it short and simple also known as keep it simple, stupid!) is a well-known term not only in coding. It is essentially a reminder for people and companies to keep their products and information simple. If we want to KISS in programming I think we should:

  • Comment our code: Not to elaborate maybe the date, your name and 3-4 words that serve as a reminder as to why you have written a certain type of code
  • Write pretty code : properly indent and format your code
  • Avoid overcomplicating the code
  • If possible break your code into sections or subroutines or classes or write functions and use them

 

  1. Write a blog post about your code

You my friend are reading it right now. I highly encourage you to also start writing. You may mail me or comment. I will review.

  1. Contribute to open source

I personally haven’t had the time to contribute to open source yet but depending on your programming language there are a lot of options out there.  For now I am thinking about this link to contribute for the first time. If you have other options please leave a comment.

 

  1. Fix it, Don’t hack it

This item needs an example. Let’s say you have written a program that calculates the sum of amount of items you have in storage and for some reason the output is always 10 items less than what is should be. You could say that you will hack the program by always adding 10 items at the end of the calculation. But that is not a good idea. You should look at your code and maybe look if there isn’t a for example a loop that is running 10 times too much or if there is somewhere where there is written 10 instead of 1.

  1. Know your tools

In programming you will encounter tools that will make your life easier as a developer. Heck you may even make them yourself. Before adding a new library, module or some hyped up tool to our new project, make sure you take some time to get to know it. To use an example I have a small car to  drive my kids to school, it’s light and energy efficient however. If I wanted to go camping with them and drive through really rough terrain I would not use my own car, I would rent or ask someone with a stronger vehicle to bring us.

  1. Know when to stop perfecting

In a way coding is like art. You , as a developer, want it to be perfect, and if you code for your own personal projects you can go on as much as you like to. However for projects that you are getting paid for it is important to remember that you are being paid to solve a problem. Getting the code to solve a problem is your code is core. Perfection can make you miss a deadline. Your code is out there to solve real world problems for real world people.

So there you have it. My take on how to become a better developer. If you find this useful. Please share or send it to someone who is also on a coding journey.

 

With a twinkle and a smile,

 

Aisah

 

Author

Eve

A fellow-traveler of life figuring out the way. I like to share little nuggets of wisdom i found on this journey. blogger coder baker mom of 2


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