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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

How to Improve your Skills as a Programmer

This will give you a few hints and some help to becoming a better programmer. So read on and enjoy! Programming can be a lot of fun if you follow these simple but efficient rules to make it that way.Otherwise there are lot of programmers out there who are unsatisfied with their programming skills.So lets get started..

[1].Gather complete requirements.Think about how what you write will function; try to consider an efficient way of doing it.
[2]. Add Comments to your code.Whenever you feel your code needs some explanation, drop some comments in. Each function should be preceded by 1-2 lines describing the arguments and what it returns. (Comments should tell you why more often than what. Remember to update the comments when you update your code!)
[3]. Use naming conventions for variables.It will help you keep track of what type the variable is. e.g. for integer variables, intRowCounter; strings: strUserName. It doesn't matter what your naming convention is, but be sure that it is consistent and that your variable names are descriptive. (See Cautions and Warnings below)
[4]. Organize your code.Indent after each bracket, try putting spaces between a variable name and an operator such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and even the equal sign (myVariable = 2 + 2).
[5]. Test.Try to think of anything that might prevent it from working correctly. Debug the errors you find.
* Write your tests to always include the following:
o Extremes: zero and max for positive values, empty string, null for every parameter.
o Meaningless values: Jibberish. Even if you don't think someone with half a brain might input that, test your software against it.
o Wrong values: Zero in a parameter that will be used in a division, negative when positive is expected or a square root will be calculated. Something that is not a number when the input type is a string, and it will be parsed for numeric value.
[6]. Practice. Practice. Practice.
[7]. Create a 'model' of your code that both the customers and the final operators can understand - a blueprint. Present it to them so they understand it and give them a chance to comment
[8]. Structure the project as a series of presentations and deployments. Dont plan in too much detail beyond the 1st couple of presesentations. Count on finding out new things about the brief every time you present or deploy. Count on the customers and operators changing their minds every time. Be ready for it. Use it. It will make the project actually worth completing.
[9]. Build a simple program then after you get the program the way you want it to be, then start adding new features to it. An example of this would be to build a number guessing program where the program will generate a random number every time you load the program then you have to guess the number. Then you can add to this by having the program be able to have a new random number with the press of a button, having you not being able to guess after a certain number of failed guesses, etc. This will not only help you with upgrading a program, this will also help you determine if there are any problems with the program prior to the upgrade.
Tips n Tricks
  • Start small, aim for things that you most likely will be able to achieve, and work your way up.
  • It is very important that you use TAB spacing to differentiate lines of code that are encapsulated (if, for, while, etc...) to make it easier to determine if you are still inside the encapsulation. This makes it much easier to read.
  • Tutorial sites are an excellent resource as well.
  • Reading the work of others (source code) is an excellent means of improving ones skills.
  • Use syntax-highlighting in your editor, it really helps.
  • People can often be a good resource for information, particularly when starting out.
  • Keep your past work, it is a good point of reference.
  • Change one thing at a time when debugging and then test your corrections before moving on the next item.
  • After each bigger segment of work, take a break doing something else, then review what you have written with a fresh mind; rethink and rewrite it, making it more effective and elegant by using less code. Repeat until perfect.
  • A program such as Visual Basic .Net can cost a lot of money. If you MUST use visual basic, go out and download Visual Studio Express Beta 2 2005 from www.microsoft.com or you may buy the student or learning editions.
    Remember programming languages like Java and Python, available at no cost.
  • Have fellow programmers read your code. If you don't know any send your code to professionals. You would be surprised what they know that you may have never thought of before! Can't find a professional? There are plenty of forums on www.myspace.com where most of the users are good hearted programmers that offer constructive criticism.
  • Double check spelling. A slight mistake can cause a lot of stress.
  • Use version control management. Tools like CVS or SVN make it even easier to track code changes and bugs. Once you get used to it you wont look back.
  • Use an IDE (Integrated Development Environment).
  • Customers and bosses aren't nearly concerned with how your program works nearly so much as they are with how well it works. Think bottom line. Clients are intelligent, but busy. They won't care what kind of data structures you're using, but they will care if it speeds up performance by 10%.
  • In step three, this Hungarian notation (indicating a variable's type with its name) is widely avoided by many programmers. It can easily lead to inconsistency when edited or ported, and can become quite confusing. Try to avoid this as much as possible
  • Copying and pasting others' code is a bad habit, especially if you weren't supposed to see the source. But all things considered, taking small portions from an open source program could be a learning experience. Just don't completely copy a program and attempt to take credit for it.
  • Save your work frequently as you go along or you risk losing hours and hours of work to a computer crash or lock-up.
  • Always test your code
  • Don't copy code from another program unless you have permission or the license permits it, like Open Source licenses.
Things You Will DEFINITELY Need
  • Ideas
  • IDE (Integrated Development Environment)
  • Computer
  • Reference books or web tutorials

[ via : amarjit.info ]