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10 things I wish I knew when I started coding

10 things I wish I knew when I started coding

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We asked our programming experts: ‘what do you wish you knew when you first started your programming career?’

Here’s what they said:

1. Don’t just copy/paste code from tutorial sites: I learned more when I looked at the code of other developers and played around with it, trying to understand their approach. It takes longer, but it’s a much more effective learning experience.

2. Avoid Integrated Development environments (IDEs): yes, IDEs make your life easier in the short-run, but developing programs ‘manually’, using notepads and commands pays off longer term. It forces you to deal with compiling and execution, library assignment, etc., making your concepts clearer and your code easier to debug.

3. Learn C-based languages: Take some time to understand all core operands and logic in a C based language like C# or Java. Fully understanding them will allow you to learn most other programming languages in days!

4. Just build it: Don’t worry about not having the complete skill set to finish the project. You’ll acquire it through the process and come across problems and solutions you didn’t even know existed. After a while, you’ll start looking back at your code and seeing how you can improve on it and introduce new and more advance technologies and frameworks.

5. Know what you don’t know: When you think you know something, you tend to be more lax, do it faster, and importantly – you don’t ask (at least until things break). Be honest about the things you don’t know. You’ll learn from others and find helpful communities you can join.

6. Get used to writing clean, readable code: this way, others can understand it, and when you come back to it 6 months later you won’t have to decipher it again. Clean code is also less prone to bugs and other issues.

7. Virtual boxes rock: people often fight about the best OS for development. Instead, using a program like Vagrant or a service like PuPHPet, you can create a virtual machine as simply as calling a single command: “vagrant up.” Access Ubuntu, Debian or CentOS virtual machine from your regular browser, whether your main machine is Windows, OS X or Linux.

8. Think, write, test, refactor, repeat: think before you start writing code – what are you trying to do? How will you know if it works? Test your code, and after optimizing – refactor. Many less experienced developers skip this critical step.

9. Dive into the source code of your favorite language, libraries or gems: One of the best ways to deepen your understanding of a language is to read both good and bad code. You’ll find ten things you don’t understand, ten things you could improve, and ten opportunities to learn something new.

10. Keep it simple: When starting out, don’t be afraid to choose a programming language that simplifies development at the expense of performance. While languages such as C/C++ will be an important part of your toolkit later on, your first programming language should be one that offers suitable abstraction, such as Python or Ruby, so you can learn faster and focus on understanding fundamental concepts.


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