How a beginner software developer should approach understanding code he or she has never seen?

Guideline:

  1. Develop understanding of what the code is trying to accomplish. Is it a website or app? What are the core intended functions?
  2. Look through the code and pinpoint the code that you have experience with and/or think you can comprehend.
  3. Go through the pinpointed code and try to understand it line by line. Pseudocoding what you think the code is doing helps.
  4. Take the code that you have a good understanding and use it as a tool to demystify the code that you are not sure about. Keep in mind the purpose of the code. Why would the author create that function or variable?
  5. Use resources such as Google for documentation.
  6. If you have access to the author, he or she will be your best resource. Sit down with him or her and try to understand why he or she wrote code in that way.
  7. Be sure to keep these in mind when you’re writing your code.