Excellent Advice for Programmers to Stand out from the Crowd
The dot-com bubble of the nineties got everybody very excited about information technology. Suddenly, career options in the IT sector boomed. Before it became mainstream it was just whiz kids and nerds that had an inkling of what an Altair was or that an Apple was anything but a fruit. These days, five year olds have tablets or smartphones and hundreds of apps are available to suit every need. We have all heard the saying: “There’s an app for that”.
As we all know, just about every mass-produced product is now made by computers and most companies would be lost without their IT systems. All these apps and all the programs needed for maintaining the first-world industry have to be written by somebody. That is where programmers come in. The problem is that, even with all the programs that need writing out there, there are still too many programmers around.
When the IT boom happened everybody got so thrilled with it that it became one of the hottest career choices around. ‘I want to be a fireman/policeman/teacher/ballet dancer’ fast turned into ‘I want to be a computer programmer’, and now the market is inundated. In a saturated market it is important to stand out from the crowd.
Do This If You Want to Be the Best Programmer Ever
1. Read Code – Every good writer is an avid reader. Whether you are writing novels or code, the same principal applies. Reading code is even more useful because programmers leave comments in their work, especially the really good programmers (which are the only ones you should read).
2. Make great friends with your tools – Although it is not possible to memorize entire libraries of complex languages like C# or Java, you have to be more than just familiar with your chosen tools of trade. The more time you spend hanging out with the language, the IDE, the source control and the build system, the better you’ll get to know them, and the better they will help you out.
3. Planning – Many programmers just dig in and start coding without any proper preparation, only to come to a standstill at some point. Programming depends on many factors and some of these factors depend on each other; writing code can have a domino effect. Best practice is to put a basic outline on paper before starting. Mind maps are an excellent idea.
4. Get a review buddy – Feedback is essential to progress. You could be writing effective code for years without expanding your periphery. By pairing up with somebody or even getting your code reviewed online by other programmers with a fresh outlook, your skills will expand and you will learn a few tricks. Naturally, you should return the favor.
5. Test, Test, Test, and Then Test Some More – Write tests even before you start coding; this can be part of your planning. Use automated tests to keep your code stable. A universal truth is that software will have bugs. The more you test, the smaller and easier these bugs will be to straighten out.
6. Don’t Stop Learning – By keeping updated with trends and changes in the IT industry, you are already surpassing thousands of complacent programmers who are happily stuck with limited vision. Things change; if you move with the times, you will arrive faster.