6 Tips for Better Coding – Insights for IT Professionals

6 Tips for Better Coding

When first starting any kind of software development, it’s easy for beginners to have their hopes dashed once they reach one of the several plateau phases you’re likely to encounter.

The learning curve for any particular technology is never straight. Along the way, you’re going to encounter problems that seem impossible to understand or master. Achieving true mastery isn’t easy. However, there are sets of practices you can use to help hone your skills and develop them into something greater.

Here are six great pieces of advice to get you started.

Use a coding standard

Writing bad code is easy. Fixing bad code is difficult and frustrating. Before you venture into any real-world projects that can be pushed into production and used by other people, it’s important to learn how to write good code.

There isn’t a single definition of what good code is, but the most common way of describing it that it should be readable, maintainable, simple and well-designed. Coding standards are created to put certain restrictions in place and prevent you from writing bad code.

Most large companies have some form of standard you can research: Google, Airbnb, and Microsoft all maintain different code standards for instance. These cover Java, JavaScript, and C# respectively. Many companies have code standards for different programming languages, too.

Make sure you’re comfortable

Most development work you’re going to do throughout your entire life will be done while sitting down. It only makes sense, then, that your workstation should be as comfortable as possible. If you don’t have one, consider setting apart a certain section in your room for working and nothing else.

Getting comfortable might mean getting a nice pair of wireless headphoness to listen to music with, getting a better keyboard, blue light filter glasses or even getting a better chair. If any part of your body hurts at the end of a long workday, that’s a sign something needs to change.

Write tests

Not everyone is a fan of test-driven development, but even the most obstinate of developers will agree that writing tests are important. Writing tests helps you to catch bugs before they occur, saves a lot of development time and gives you a good basis for documenting your code.

Write comments

It will probably be quite a while before you can write self-documenting code. Before then, write as many useful comments as you can. For instance, write down what a certain function does and why you wrote it the way you did (instead of any other methods, if available.)

It may sound silly if you’ve never experienced it, but you will probably forget what a piece of code does down the line or why you wrote it the way you did. Changing fragile code without direction can lead to more problems than actual solutions.

Use meaningful variable names

The first lesson towards writing self-documenting code you will likely ever get is writing self-explanatory variable names. For instance, let’s say you have a variable that stores the number of dogs that have been vaccinated.

Instead of naming it ‘dogs’ or worse ‘a’, use phrases such as ‘numberOfDogsVaccinated’ if your code in a language like Java or ‘number_of_dogs_vaccinated’ if you code in Python. This small difference can make an incredible difference later on.

Learn how to use Git

Git is the most famous version control software out there and perhaps one of the most crucial tools you ever need to learn. Git provides a tool for collaboration, tracking code changes and reversing errors if they happen to sneak their way into production. Once you join a team, knowing how to use it is an irreplaceable skill.

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