Programming is basically poetry. It is an art, now a few of you, or let’s say a lot of you may strongly disagree with this. But programming is not just about Programmersstarting with a blank notepad and getting the desired output, it is a lot more than that. It takes skill to write a good program. There are various factors that lead to a ‘well-written’ program. For example, how much time did you take to write it? Or is your program easy to read? In this listicle, we will be discussing the different techniques and hacks that effective programmer use to write smarter programs.
1. They implement classes and functions into their code
You know how you save your frequently visited sites as bookmarks so that you don’t have to type the web address again and again? Same way. A really good programming habit is to implement classes and functions into the code which you know you will be reusing in the program again. Rewriting code not only wastes your time but it also makes your code unnecessarily huge. And this becomes a huge problem when it comes to finding a bug, which leads to more time being wasted. So this habit may sound like a small one but is very helpful in the longer run. You can also have a separate folder in which you can store all these functions which you use repeatedly and when it’s time to use them in a program, just call that particular function. A neat code is always more conducive to work with.
2. They say no to prototypes
Nobody is saying that coding a program is a one night job, or you can easily finish it in a day depending on the type of work there. However, on the other hand, Prototyping is a great escape mechanism that people use these days to skip the hard work. Of course, prototyping in the long run and for big projects is an important step in the process, but it is also important not to use prototypes as an excuse to skip work. So sometimes, even when the program is giving you a hard time with errors or long lines of codes, you have to push through it in the name of prototyping.
3. They implement Version Control
Another known habit of effective programmers is that they always maintain a system for Version Controlling. For those who aren’t aware, Version Control is a configuration management system where you can track and manage the changes done in documents, programs, websites, etc. Sometimes, while writing code, it is a possibility that you screw up big time, and need to go back to the previous version of your code? Without version control, the only way to do that is to, go back to the original version of the code, and then start fixing bugs right from that stage. This will take you ages and also get you frustrated in the process and have a higher tendency to just quit the whole thing and play a game of Dota. To avoid this whole crisis, you can use a Version Control system.
Git is my personal favorite when it comes to Version Control. They have a ton of documentation options online. You don’t have to worry about another dooming error anymore, make as many versions as you want, revise, modify, experiment. GIT works even better if you are working with multiple people on a single project. Even on a personal note, you can use to track your changes and organize your code which leads us to the next point.
4. They always keep their code well organized
When a project is very exciting you may tend to just follow your instincts and start coding into one big file. This habit becomes a nightmare when you are stuck at a point with a bug and you have no clue where to even start finding it. So, the organization is key. Before you even start coding, have a mind map and segment the project into different tasks and folders.
- Write different scripts for different functions. So this way you don’t have to scroll up and down a thousand times and waste your time. So create different files for animation, design, interface, extensions, etc.
- Another thing that can help you organize better is to stick to one language per file, for example, if you are writing an effect in Java, don’t jump to CSS for some other effect. Unless that’s the only way to achieve something you want.
- Maintain different folders for different formats, like images, JS, CSS files, animation, etc.
- Get on Twitter Bootstrap, this will make your cross-platform scripting a piece of cake while keeping your code organized.
5. They use an editor which is perfect for their needs
You may be an excellent programmer, but the right editor will always add to your expertise. There is no right answer for which is the best editor out there. It all depends on your style of work and your editing priorities. Some editors like Brackets, give you a live preview of how your code’s output will look like. Some editors like Notepad ++ use less CPU power and won’t give you any hardware issues while coding. Editors like Visual Studio Code have an amazing extension gallery and an active community who you can interact with and seek help from.
My personal favorite would be Sublime text. It is lightweight. It is cross-platform and has a lot of plugins that can come handy. With it’s special ‘Goto Anything’ feature you can find any symbol or line of code in your program easily. You can also select multiple elements and make group changes instead of making changes in ever segment separately. It also has color filters which makes your code easier to read even for yourself. So find a code editor which suits your needs the best! This may seem like a very Youtube-y thing to mention but it does help in the long run.
Java is an excellent tool to create programs and a few myths shouldn’t stop anyone from relishing in its benefits. If you are interested to know more about Java, you can try the ‘Java for beginners Step-by-step hands-on guide to Java‘ online tutorial to learn the language from scratch.
6. They write people-friendly code
At the end of the day, the code you are writing it for yourself. You may have to come back to it several times. So code in a way that you or any of your team members should not get confused as to what to do next. Here are a few tips that the successful programmers follow to make coding a smoother process for themselves or their team:
- Before you even start the program, decide on naming conventions. You know how you save contacts of a particular social group under one prefix, like school, art class, work, etc. Same way, have different prefixes for different conventions like an underscore for variables, or apostrophe functions, or initials for classes, etc, so that it becomes easier to find them.
- Another good habit is to use arrays and loops in the coding process. This helps in saving a lot of time as you don’t have to write every line separately.
- Using indentations in the code is a really great habit to have, as it decodes the entire structure with just tab keys and you can see how a function will perform in the output.
- When you are writing codes for two different functions in the same line, it is always a great idea to use line breaks. Especially when it comes to CSS properties.
- Write elaborate method names. Don’t get too lazy. Sometimes using weird abbreviations for variable or method names gets confusing later on when you are stuck at some point.
7. They acknowledge the fact that they are not robots
A stereotypical life of a programmer involves, waking up at noon, coding and gaming all night, having friends over the internet, ordering takeouts, and basically living out of their messy den. I am not trying to be rude, but this has become a stereotype for a reason. Effective programmers do not follow this lifestyle, and they acknowledge the fact that they are not robots but mere human beings. And they do need movement and possibly a social life. So in between catching up with deadlines and ‘almost finishing’ a project, make sure you are maintaining a work-life balance. Exercise every day hit the gym, or go for a hike or a swim. It will also help your work apart from keeping you healthy. If you’re stuck in the project somewhere, trying to debug something just shut down your PC, and go out for a walk, and come back to it later. You will be fresh and will probably debug it much sooner now.
So effective programmers exercise, eat fresh, meet friends outside of your social accounts and have hobbies which are not work-related.
8. They leave comments everywhere
It may seem like a very mundane activity but you should totally comment on all your code. When you are in the flow of coding, and completely in your zone, you find all things all sunshine and butterflies, but when you go back to that code it becomes a nightmare because you don’t understand your coding. For this very reason, effective programmers are very particular about leaving comments everywhere. It gives you a brief idea about what that particular function does or why did you write that line in the first place. This not only helps to reduce the number of bugs you make but also helps you debug faster.
9. They are lifelong learners
Well, this is true for all human beings in general, not just programmers. You constantly need to feed your brain with new knowledge. If you are not moving forward, you are moving backward. And especially for programmers, no matter how much you learn it’s never really enough. There is always something that you can update yourself on, a new language, a new method, a new tool, etc. And moreover, this is one field where you can get phased out pretty quickly if you are not constantly updating your knowledge arena. Make sure that at least an hour of your day goes into learning something new, it could be mastering your skills that you’re already good at or learning an entirely new framework.
The practice is, of course, a great way to do that, and you can also opt for a million online courses to add new knowledge into your system. There are many free and paid courses online by experts who can act as personal trainers for your brain. Reading programming books and listening to podcasts are also great ways to learn.
10. They frequently use shortcuts
Effective programmers are used to using shortcuts instead of playing around with the mouse or the touchpad. It may seem like a mundane hack, but it gets quite useful over the long run. So one afternoon and learn all the shortcuts for the tasks that are repetitive. Some of the examples include:
●The home button can take you to the first character of the line.
●With Ctrl + End you can go to the end of the file.
●With Ctrl + arrows you can move word by word.
● With Ctrl + K + C you can comment.
●With alt + shift + up arrow, you can duplicate the line above.
So on and so forth. You will find a lot more time-saving keyboard shortcuts online.
11. They keep a code journal
Journaling has anyway been known as a very healthy practice to do in your day to day life as well. It helps to clear your mind, plan for things, remember things, note down ideas, etc. Similarly, effective programmers also keep a coding journal with them. In this journal, you can note down all the important things that you learned while practicing, or some coding hacks that you found off the internet or certain common mistakes that you always make, or you can also write down your project deadlines, make to-do lists, break down the project into small tasks and then track your progress in that way. So not a bad idea to keep a journal handy with you for all of these things.
12. They test and debug after short intervals
Some programmers decide to debug once the first prototype or draft is ready. However, a lot of time gets wasted in that process. Because some bugs are so tiny and difficult to spot that you have to go back revise every little segment of the code, and between the frustration of doing that more often than not you are probable to just ‘take a break’ and never touch it again. A very useful habit of effective programmers is to test their code as they are building it. You should also turn your error reporting on so that you know when and where the errors are happening.
Other than this, you can also install some effective debugging tools in your system like Firebug, which will help you detect your errors, track your expression and monitor your performance. Another great idea is to invest your time into learning and studying IDE’s like Xamarin Studio because they have their own built-in debugger. There are a lot of amazing online courses out there to learn it quickly. And of course not all the languages work on a common debugging system, so you have to look into and learn the different debugging methods for different languages.
13. They share their code
Another habit of effective programmers is that they share their code with the world on public platforms like Github. Doing this comes with a lot of benefits.
- You have your code in a safe place, where you can never lose it. So even your PC is acting up, you always have a backup. It’s like working on Google Drive.
- You can get great insights from all the other people out there, who may be way more experienced than you are. It’s a great platform to learn on the go.
- When you are posting about your project in parts, you feel more accountable to complete it on time because now it’s more like social pressure.
So instead of spending your time on Facebook and Instagram, platforms like Github are a great way to hone your craft.
14. Their work is very focussed
When effective programmers work they work. By that I mean, they don’t randomly take a break and play a game of Fifa. Or they don’t casually open Netflix and watch a movie or go out with a friend for a beer, or pick up their phone fifty times to see who texted. Effective programmers, turn off the notifications on their phone, close all tabs, and are completely focused on the work at hand. It does seem a little dreamy and something that only overachievers can do, but don’t lose hope, you can too if you try. Don’t move from your chair until your target for the day is over. And yes, as mentioned before have set targets, break them into little tasks and then just get on it!
15. They learn touch typing
Another time-saver. For those who aren’t aware touch typing is basically a technique of typing with all your fingers without actually looking at the keyboard. But it’s not as simple as it sounds like, it’s almost like learning an instrument. There are certain hand positions that you need to learn like you first begin touch typing on a qwerty with your fingers placed on a set of keys called the home row keys. That’s like the home base, and from there you move to other keys, but the point is to keep all your fingers on the keyboard at all times. Well, I won’t attempt trying to teach you to touch typing in just one paragraph, you can learn it online pretty easily. It is a very important skill that a programmer can have because most of his job is only based on typing.
There you go, now go ahead and apply at least five of these tips into your method of programming and see how it truly changes your programming experience. Happy Coding!