Helpful Programming And Coding Advice
Programming can be frustrating, tedious, and repetitive at times. Topics such as helpful advice, programming tips, and steps to code successfully are what this article is about. It aims to shed light to help novice programmers avoid common mistakes and work through them. Helpful programming advice will benefit programmers, software engineers, web designers, and even self-taught coders.
Build a strong foundation
One of the essential skills of programming is understanding concepts. These concepts work together to form code that will be used for problem-solving. Because of this, each idea needs to be understood before moving on to the next. Trying to learn something new without being comfortable with what you are currently studying sets you up for failure.
That’s the equivalent of learning how to run when you are having trouble walking. This can even apply to subjects you should know before coding, such as introductory algebra. Programming languages often use functions and variables, which might be tricky to apprehend without any experience in algebra. That is an excellent example of being at a disadvantage due to a weak foundation.
A lot of beginners ask, what are the programming basics I should know? Just like how English is a language made up of verbs, nouns, adjectives, propositions, conjunctions, etc. Programming languages are also made of different components. These elements include data types, programming environment, keywords, variables, logical and arithmetical operators, loops, functions, if-else conditions, characters, arrays, and more.
“Beginners need to understand the fundamentals of programming first. They need to be familiar with the basic elements and what it means to write code before they can use somebody else’s.” This quote emphasizes knowing the basics, which directly relates to my point of building a solid foundation.
Break down problems
It can be intimidating to tackle big problems all at once. Taking a step back and evaluating the issue at hand can reduce the complexity of the problem. Breaking them down into smaller tasks will make the situation more approachable and easier to solve. A good rule for knowing when you should break down a problem is when you don’t know where to start.
Although that is a good situation to use the breakdown method, it can be used for any problem. A great way to go about this is to start by writing down what you know and what you need to know. Figure out what the problem is telling you to do and then plan how to get the answer.
A piece of advice on knowing if you understand the problem is to see if you can explain it to someone else. You can even try explaining it to an inanimate object if you have no one around. This works because if you can explain it to someone else, you should have a pretty good understanding of it yourself.
“ Now, think about the question and analyze it carefully. Sometimes we read a few lines and assume the rest of the things on our own, but a slight change in your question can change many items in your code, so be careful about that. Now take a paper and write down everything. What is given (input), and what do you need to find out (output)? “The text demonstrates reading carefully and noticing critical points in the problem are essential to completion just as I stated above.
For example, write a code that needs user age and print‘ child’ if they are younger than 18.
What do we know/explain the problem out loud:
We need to make a code that first asks the user to input their age and then judges if they are a child or not depending on if they are younger than 18
Breakdown the problem:
- Write a code that asks the user to input their age.
- Now I write a code that judges their age.
- Next, write a code that prints “child” if the condition is met.
- Finally, put it together.
Furthermore, In the computer science field, designing is crucial to keep in mind. Planning can impact how long it will take and how difficult it will be. Pseudocode is a beneficial tool that allows programmers to arrange problems more quickly to interpret. Writing steps in plain text before writing in code will help us understand what we are trying to do so we don’t waste time because we misinterpreted the problem.
The good thing about pseudocode is that it’s entirely up to the programmer how specific or detailed they want their pseudocode to be. You’re essentially writing a guide designed to make the most sense to you before coding. Pseudocode can be used for almost any problem, such as writing a for/while loop, conditional statements, functions, and many more.
“Pseudocode helps you plan out your app before you write it. It helps you create algorithms in a format that is easier to read than code syntax. Once programming languages come into the picture, it can be harder to understand what your code is doing.” Pseudocode comes with a variety of benefits, a couple of which are stated above and in the quote.
In the example, notice how the text is in coding format but is written in English. It does an excellent job of simulating what the code should look like but is written easiest for the programmer to understand.
Like anything in life, things don’t always go as planned on the first try. Getting the correct code will usually take programmers multiple attempts and might even make them restart their code. Patience allows us to analyze and examine things and situations deeper than our first initial look.
But what helps them push through is accepting failure as part of the learning process and having the patience to go through their code again and make edits — struggling when coding only promotes growth and shows that you’re challenged. If it were easy, your knowledge and skills would remain the same.
“ Things can take a while to learn, and people are not perfect. Making mistakes and failing can be the most important experiences in the learning process, so allow for that instead of creating an environment where it isn’t safe to take risks or grow. Understand that different things click more easily for different people and know that learning can take a while.” Although we can become annoyed, being open to failure is crucial to encouraging patience and learning.
Write Clear Code
Similarly, something that can quickly go over coders’ heads is making sure that they write their code as straightforwardly as possible. A leisurely start is by using relative and descriptive functions and variable names. For example, Instead of X, use something that can tell you more, like Average Revenue. Another thing you can do is leave comments so you can easily understand what you were doing when writing that part of your code or so that someone else can understand what you were doing.
Separating large functions can also help you write clear code. By doing this, your code will be more precise, easier to understand, and reusable. But before we look to separate large functions, we have to make sure we avoid repetition in our code and use functions instead. Reducing recurrence in our code will make us avoid “dry code,” which is literally the repetition of software patterns in code.
“When you write code by following them, then no matter who is also working with it, the person will understand everything on their own. Clear code is needed for both individuals and teams.” This quote shows the importance of clear code and is vital to both individuals and teams.
Example of unclear code:
x = 5
j = 7
p = x * j
Example of clear code:
NumberOfPeople = 5
#NumberOfPeople is the number of people in a group
CostPerTicket = 7
#CostPerTicket is the admission cost for 1 movie ticket
CostForGroup = NumberOfPeople * CostPerTicket
Know Your Learning Style
Another important tip is knowing your learning style. Knowing your learning style can completely change the difficulty of what you are trying to understand. The three learning types are visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Realizing which three resonates most with you can help you learn and study effectively.
Learning styles can vary from person to person, so what works for someone else might not be the best for you and vice versa.
“Research has shown that individuals exhibit different approaches in the learning process and a single strategy or approach was unable to provide optimal learning conditions for all individuals.” The excerpt shows that research has proven that a single learning approach doesn’t affect everyone. Some learned well with the system used, but some had difficulty learning with said method.
Know When to ask for help
Of course, struggling is an integral part of being a programmer because learning occurs. Pushing past a challenging problem can lead to realizations and boost confidence. Although it’s good to do this, make sure you know when to ask for help.
It would help if you asked for help when you can’t figure where to start, what you are being asked, and how to solve the problem (After trying for a reasonable amount of time). When you do, you should share your code, be specific, and state what you already tried so you won’t have to go back and forth discussing things you could have stated in your post rather than the problem.
Asking someone for help means having them spend their time assisting you. Make sure you don’t have syntax errors or anything simple that you should’ve checked beforehand. Try to narrow your problem as much as possible, so it’s easier for people to understand exactly what you need help with.
“If you’re asking for help, you’re asking for someone else to use their own time working on someone else’s problem. Don’t waste their time for silly reasons: check your question for typos, make sure any links you post-work and try to format things reasonably nicely if you can.” The text supports the idea that when asking for help, you want to make the most of others’ time.
Become adept at problem-solving
Being a software or web developer means that a big part of your career will be problem-solving. To do this, we would identify a problem, create a plan to solve the problem, and utilize the goal to develop a computer program. Problems are rarely solved on the first try. As the complexity of the problem increases, so will the amount of trial and error.
To become a good problem solver, you have to start by making sure you understand problems. Reading it over at least three times (or however much you need) is an excellent way to become comfortable with the situation. Then work through your problem manually with different sets of sample data using pseudocode. Don’t worry too much about the syntax but instead focus on the logic and steps.
Look for areas where you can reduce code or any repeating patterns you notice. Then simplify and implement your algorithm with the actual variables and values used in the problem.
“If you wrote it out on paper, type this up as comments in your code editor. Then replace each line in your pseudocode. Then I call the function and give it some sample sets of data we used earlier. I use them to see if my code returns the results I want. You can also write tests to check if the actual output is equal to the expected output.”
The quote shows that when doing this, you’re finding a solution for a simplified version of the problem then inserting that solution back into the original problem.
Practice is a core part of becoming better at something. In terms of coding, practice will help you be more efficient and productive. In the programming world, programmers will have to meet harsh deadlines heavily influenced by accuracy constantly. At the start of your career, mistakes are bound to happen, but with practice, you will become more and more fluent and make fewer mistakes reducing the time it takes to complete a problem.
You will also see an increase in creativity and fluidity. As you become comfortable with a language, you can regularly use all the tools you have utilized to create solutions that show your creativity. Although you might be stuck when learning the syntax side of things, after this stage, you will be able to make your code flow and run smoothly quite easily with practice.
“As a learner, you should not blame yourself too much when you make a mistake. Instead, it would be best to make mistakes as a learning opportunity. With time, patience, and practice, you will grow beyond your small mistakes and become more efficient and accurate.” This quote supports our statement that only with practice and time can you improve your programming skills.
In conclusion, programming can be intimidating and not as simple as one might think. But with the aid of the advice provided, it becomes less complex and intimidating. Remembering the importance of having patience, breaking down problems, using pseudocode, learning the basics, and many more will pay off and set you up for success in the programming world.