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5 ways to improve your programming skills

Posted in Hints & Tips on 1st June 2021

“I always choose a lazy person to do a hard job, because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.”

Bill Gates.

This quote is banded around a lot, hey I am evening bringing it up now, but is the easy way always the best way? Think about it, when ‘cleaning’ your house how often do you organise rather than tidy. You know what I mean; the quick hanging up of coats, putting your kids toys back in the box and a quick hoover. Yes, the job may be ‘done’ but is it really done properly.

How about in your working environment, which this quote was designed for; it is approaching deadline day you still have some deliverables to complete but you are running out of time so you jump on to StackOverflow and copy some code which will fix your problem. It is a quick solution but is it scalable? In a world where cutting corners is the trend, the way to stand out is to refine your skills, double down on things and become more efficient, so here is 5 tips to help you improve your coding.

1. Reduce the size of your pull requests:

Large pull request can be a frustrating and tedious task. Think about the last time you submitted a large pull request and you saw huge quantities of changes in it and thought “Nope, not today” and then not done it?

In turn, never leave a day’s work without checking it in. Also, never commit code that does not compile or breaks the build.

2. Ask questions around the requirements:

Sounds simple right? Wrong, developers tend to hear the task and begin coding, create a piece of work, and deliver it. The more experienced programmers will know, this is not best practice.

Create a dry run, write down your understanding and the flow on a piece of paper first and visualise it end-to-end, then you can start the implementation. By the end of this, your colleagues should be able to see your work and understand each part of it!

3. Segment your tasks:

Think about the bigger task at hand, how many sub sections can that be broken down to in order to still get the same overall goal. Tackle one section at a time and layer it.

Engineers also seem to pull themselves of their intended task to help their colleague (love the team spirit) however, this too can impact your quality of code. Try to only bite of as much as you can chew to get the best results.

4. Stay humble:

We all know how easy it is to get a big too big for one’s boots. You get a promotion, or a pay-rise and you get that swagger in your step. Well, this can cause problems with your code, you start cutting corners and you stop taking advice (in some cases not all).

Stay grounded, ask questions, learn from yours and others mistake and build on the foundations which got you to where you are today.

5. Double-down at what you’re good at:

If you are good at Python, get better. If you are a JS dev and use React, get better at it. Do not just jump/move on to the latest trend/ up and coming technology because the market tells you to.

Businesses spend vast sums of money on implementing technologies and migrating legacy code across so, like the businesses only consider swapping your main vocation if there is a commercial gain. Programmers can spread themselves too thin and result in becoming a “jack of all trades, master of non”.  

These tips will help you improve your skills as a programmer and in turn make you be able to stand out. 

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