Software development, if you are doing it right, is an ongoing learning experience. The only way you can really improve is through practice. For this reason, the key to becoming a successful developer is to keep coding. You should never stop learning new methods, shortcuts, and techniques to help you solve problems faster and more efficiently. To do this you need to constantly review documentation, regularly participate in team projects, and stay informed about the latest tools and frameworks.
While some developers study computer science for years at a university, many others are self-taught. They have rolled up their sleeves, taken courses online, and have put their knowledge into practice. No matter how you learn, in the end, it is all the same career.
When you are writing code, it is inevitable that you run into roadblocks or challenges. When you do, keep these tips in mind. They will help stop your progress from grinding to a halt because you are missing a simple piece of the puzzle.
Check the Reference Material
That’s right, check the documentation. Too many developers are too eager to jump straight into coding. They forget to do their basic homework. They don’t learn best practices for the platform or language they are using. This usually leads to coding delays and unnecessary detours. The official documentation may seem long-winded or obtuse, but it does offer a foundation you can build upon to implement the functionality you need.
If you read the documentation before you start working on an application, you can avoid getting stuck or delayed. You won’t choose the wrong tools because you failed to learn the fundamentals. Of course, it doesn’t just stop there — sometimes, you have to do a deeper dive into the resources and review past projects to truly understand a concept.
Write Less, Optimize More with Code
Even if you have the best intentions, your code will end up looking like a jumbled mess if you don’t refactor to clean it up. Longer code paves the way for more bugs, leads to more dependencies, and makes the overall structure of your projects harder to maintain. You should try to limit the amount of code you use or you risk accumulating technical debt from having too many moving parts.
Writing good code means it has to be brief, contain the right features, and be quick to execute. You need to be aware of the trade-off between the time spend and the degree of complexity of your code. Think about which lines are redundant. Think about what you can simplify into code other developers can make sense of.
Utilize Industry Standards
Aside from writing accessible code, there are several coding practices you should follow. It boils down to you understanding why coding standards in an agile environment matter. Remember, others have to read your code and recognize what it’s doing. That is why you need to take an approach that makes sense.
This is especially true on sizable projects. Projects where multiple developers share the same files, and all contribute to the code. Industry standards facilitate flexible, multi-purpose coding. This, in turn, improves consistency between working components. Most organizations have their own guidelines for assessing the maintainability and readability of code and it is important to incorporate them into your final product.
Find Your Community
As a developer, doing everything yourself is an uphill battle. In fact, most veteran programmers have an established support network. This network guides them in navigating all kinds of libraries and frameworks. A good community brings together devs with similar experiences in the industry, often allowing users to run code reviews or critique debugging attempts.
The best community is often GitHub, where you have access to millions of open-source projects to review. There are also sites like CodeProject if you want to look up tutorials, share a work in progress, or read articles from other developers.
Forums are another excellent source of information. Join a group of like-minded developers on StackOverflow, StackExchange, or even Reddit if you want help on specific problems. With that in mind, try to connect with experts who can steer you in the right direction on becoming a better developer.
Know When to Build vs. Buy
The build vs. buy decision isn’t always straightforward. It really depends on what you want to achieve. By weighing the benefits against the costs, you can usually figure out when to buy a third-party solution. Especially when your other option is to reinvent the wheel with a manual workaround. That said, it always pays to take into account that partner products aren’t always as simple as plug and play.
To get a better idea, you need to compare the cost of development versus the price of licensing. For basic tasks, it is usually more effective to keep things within your development team and maintain the bare minimum of infrastructure. However, bulkier software requires additional expertise from consultants who know how to implement it without any issues.
Ask yourself what kind of solution will satisfy your clients and whether the solution you are considering is relevant to your project goals. There’ is always the risk of being unable to deliver on a software release, which can be amplified by buying a tool. Also, unless you don’t mind shifting your source code to another server, you could impact the stability of your software.