Although deciding that you want to become a better coder is easy, actually climbing the steps of improvement may prove to be harder.
To become an amazing programmer, you must first understand what improvement looks like and have a plan of action to reach your goal.
Below are eight tips that you can take action on right away on your journey to become a master of programming.
1. Admit that you have quite a lot to learn
Although this may sound obvious, the first thing you must do on your journey is to realize how much you have to learn. While confidence is a good thing, too many computer science graduates come out of school with an air of arrogance that proves to be detrimental to both their development and skills level. There is nothing to gain from proving to your colleagues that you are right, and it will just stand in the way for you to learn anything new.
2. Don’t try to prove yourself right
To become absolutely fantastic, the experience is required. However, do not use your experience to prove yourself and your code “right.” If you go that route, your years of experience, however numerous they may be, will turn into one repeated piece of knowledge that doesn’t show growth and innovation. Instead, always be open to suggestions and changes to your coding and knowledge.
Many software developers look at their code only to inspect its functionality, and their tests revolve around proving that the code is good to work. However, great programmers should do tests trying to find loopholes and failures within their code. They work to prove themselves wrong so that their code will truly be close to invincible when in actual consumer use.
3. Make your starting point when the code works
Too many times, new programmers rejoice at the moment when all their hard work shines through when their code finally works as it’s supposed to. Then, they abruptly move on to their next task, probably never giving the just finished code another thought.
Although working code is always a cause for celebration, you should focus on your next step: improving your code. Part of the struggle is to define what you want to improve. Perhaps the aesthetics? The speed? The reliability? There should always be something more to improve in your work.
4. Make three rounds in every piece of code
Although it may seem like quite an accomplishment to even create working code, your goal should always be to find more ways to improve. As a general rule of thumb, always write your code three times before thinking about calling it finished. During your first round, you should strictly be finding possible ways to create code that works. Explore different options and weigh the pros and cons of each. During the second round, focusing on writing code that works well. Lastly, you should go through it one last time to make improvements in speed and minor details. The last time should also serve as a quality check to ensure that every part of your code is as amazing as you can make it. Although it may seem that fantastic developers write perfect code the first try, that is not the case. Even the best developers will scrap their first drafts before showing off the polished product. Even if you don’t change your code very much during the three checks, it still benefits you to look at your code in a different light.
5. Read the work of others
Although reading good code is the most common advice for novice engineers, it remains one of the most valuable. However, you must remember the reasons behind reading great code to truly learn from it. Some questions to keep in mind include:
- How would I have accomplished this task?
- Are there any alternate solutions I can find that might work better?
- What skills am I gaining from this?
Instead of merely thinking of answers to these problems, try documenting them. Try writing out the alternate solutions you thought of, and attempt to make the code work on your own. Finally, practice writing different code in the same style as the author to gain their technique rather than just their tools.
Many programmers attempt to become better by reading code yet fail to see any improvement at all. Often, this is due to the fact that they are seeking specific answers to the difficulties they have at the moment rather than trying to learn techniques that will benefit their entire career. Instead of copying and pasting similar code you find online, you should always work through the analytics behind the lines before incorporating it into your work.
6. Look into personal programming
To become a fantastic coder, you need a lot of practice. Try coming up with personal projects that you are interested in coding outside of your company for extra practice. These personal projects will often give you the benefit of learning about platforms and softwares that aren’t available at your current job as well as prepare you for any tasks you may encounter in your programming career. Furthermore, they also prove to your future employers that you have the drive to learn, not just able to finish assignments. With this in mind, you should also work to challenge yourself in personal projects. After all, it is from failure that you learn the most!
7. Seek help from fellow developers
Even if you prefer to learn from online tutorials, you might benefit greatly from one-on-one sessions with an expert programmer. Pay close attention to their techniques and feedback on your skills, and be open to constructive criticism! If you’re fortunate enough to have a mentor, be sure to soak up as much knowledge from them as possible.
8. Focus on skills and techniques over simple answers
Programming platforms are so widely spread and regularly updated that it is impossible to expect specific solutions to remain constant. Due to this, it is extremely important to focus on the method of problem-solving rather than memorizing the answers. Be sure to stay open-minded to new ways to solve old problems. By mastering the techniques of writing code, you will quickly become a pro at whatever new platforms that come up!
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