30 November 2023

10 Programming Habits You Should Embrace

By usamerica_us

It’s common for us to encounter challenges in programming that may affect our confidence, but the good news is that these challenges can be overcome with the adoption of proper development practices. In this article, I want to share with you 10 valuable habits that you should incorporate into your programming routine. By doing so, you will be able to write cleaner, more efficient code with less effort. So, let’s dive in and start cultivating these habits!

Learning Programming: Dispelling 10 Common Myths

There are many misconceptions and myths surrounding the art of programming. Some people see it as an arcane and impenetrable field, but the truth is far from that. To learn more about the topic, check out our article on common misconceptions in programming.

1. Craft Code that Speaks to Humans

When writing code, it’s important to remember that you’re not just communicating with machines, but also with your future self and other developers who may work on the same codebase. Therefore, it’s crucial to write code that is easy to read and understand. In a way, programming is akin to crafting a beautiful poem. It requires a consistent tone, descriptive words, and well-structured sentences to convey your ideas effectively.

Here are some tips to help you write code that is friendly to humans:

Why Naming Conventions Matter

When writing code, it’s important to follow consistent naming conventions. This means that if I choose to name private variables with an underscore as the first letter, I should continue to do so throughout my code.

If I’m working with others, it’s essential to discuss and agree upon naming conventions before we start coding. This way, we can all maintain a unified style and avoid confusion.

However, many programming languages already have standard naming conventions in place, either defined by the core language itself or the coding community. In most cases, you won’t need to create your own conventions.

You can rely on tools like linters or code sniffers to help enforce these standards and automatically fix any code that doesn’t conform. Here are some popular linters for different programming languages:

Using Descriptive Names for Variables and Methods

When writing code, it’s important to use variable and method names that clearly describe what that code does. For example, using uncommon abbreviations like Sort_PT() can be confusing. What does the PT mean? If you can’t answer that on a second check, it’s better to optimize the name and use Sort_PostType() for better comprehension.

However, there is an exception to this rule. Most programmers are already familiar with the term “ID” for identity, so it’s acceptable to use the short form “ID” when defining a variable.

Indentation and Line Breaks

Indentation is magical! Simply using the tab key can reveal the entire code structure, allowing you to edit the code with a clear understanding of how it will function.

When it comes to code, it’s important to remember that certain situations call for line breaks. You see, a line break is needed when two codes on the same line perform different functions. It’s like a pause that makes things less complicated. So, instead of chaining CSS properties on a single line, it’s best to give each one its own line. This way, everything stays organized and easy to understand.

2. Let’s Talk Organization

Now, let’s talk about how code structure and organization play a role in readability. You see, it’s not enough for code to be clean; it also needs to be organized. Think of it like putting everything in its right place. This makes it easier to make changes when needed. If you find yourself scrolling up and down multiple times just to find a certain section of code, it’s a sign that your code structure needs some work.

Another important point to remember is to avoid throwing all your code into a single script. I mean, it might seem pretty convenient to have all your code in one file, but trust me, debugging becomes a nightmare. It’s like trying to remember the names of a thousand different people at once. Instead, always consider making separate scripts with specific functions. This way, you can make changes more easily and keep everything nice and tidy.

The smartest way to do things is by breaking down the code into different files, each with its own specific role. You could have files for managing, interfacing, animating, extending, and more. By organizing your code like this, it becomes much easier to understand and work with. It’s like having a team of specialists, each focusing on their own area of expertise. So go ahead, divide and conquer your code!

10 Programming Habits You Should Embrace

Whenever I write code, my priority is to ensure that the language I use serves a specific purpose. For example, if I want to create an animation effect using CSS3, I will opt for that instead of using jQuery, unless I have a compelling reason to do otherwise. And if I do decide to use jQuery, I’ll make sure to leave a comment in the CSS file explaining the exception.

3. Think Ahead and Plan

Before I even start typing a single line of code, it’s crucial for me to have a clear plan in mind. In the world of programming, proper planning is essential. Let’s say I want to create a fixed navigation menu. That’s pretty straightforward. But what if I also want it to be responsive, so it adjusts to different screen sizes? And what if I want it to minimize itself when people scroll down the page? Without a clear plan, I’ll likely end up making mistakes, feeling overwhelmed, and getting stuck in a frustrating loop.

Plan Your Code Carefully

Instead of trying to solve problems and write code all at once, it’s much easier if we start by figuring out the steps to follow and then writing a solution. Let’s list the general steps we need to take for this example:

1. Use Bootstrap as a responsive framework.

2. Create a navigation menu.

3. Add the “.navbar-fixed-top” class to the menu.

4. Create a jQuery script that resizes the menu when the user scrolls down more than 200px.

5. If the user scrolls back to the top, resize the menu again.

Now, let’s troubleshoot and address any other issues we may encounter. For example, we need to consider how to resize the site logo and menu title based on the size of the menu. We should also determine whether to resize the dropdown menu and if the detection should be dynamic or fixed. Once we figure these things out, finishing the menu will be a breeze.

4. Writing Code that’s Easy to Handle

Believe me, you really don’t want to go through the hassle of modifying countless variables one by one, tirelessly and tediously. I’ve been there, done that, and let me tell you, it was quite the humbling ordeal. That’s why I’ve come to realize the importance of crafting code that requires the least amount of manual modifications possible.

10 Programming Habits You Should Embrace

I’m going to show you how to achieve this. We’ll use Array. It’s the perfect tool for storing multiple variables. And the great thing is, you can easily access those variables using a for loop or the for each method.

But guess what? There are even more dynamic ways to add, arrange, and retrieve data in certain languages. For example, in C#, you have options like List and LINQ. So make sure you keep an eye out for better features, libraries, or plugins that can help you manage your data more efficiently.

Now, here’s my final tip: if you want to save yourself from the headache of constantly modifying code, one strategy is to write highly independent code. This means that when you need to add new features or make changes, you can do so without breaking the whole system. We call this strategy “Loose Coupling”. And the best part? After you optimize your code, you only have to make tweaks in one class instead of three classes to add new features.

5. Stop Overdoing Features

As I develop my skills, I find myself creating more complex solutions to meet a variety of needs. It’s a positive sign of growth, but I have to be careful not to go overboard with unnecessary features.

When I’m working on a project, it’s crucial to constantly remind myself of the main objective and only include features that serve that purpose. If I already know the size of a collection, I should use an Array. If a List can retrieve the data I need without complicated LINQ operations, then I shouldn’t use advanced LINQ.

Why waste time developing a plugin for a feature I rarely use? Just because I have the ability to do so doesn’t mean it’s a wise decision. Time is valuable, and I have to keep in mind that the most time-consuming part of the project, finishing it, is still ahead of me. Now, let’s move on to debugging!

6. Improve Your Debugging Skills

When it comes to programming, bugs are bound to pop up. It’s just the nature of the game. That’s why having good debugging skills is so important. After all, who wants to spend hours trying to track down and fix a bug when there are tools that can do it for you?

The Power of Debugging Tools

Luckily, modern browsers come equipped with handy tools known as Developer Tools or DevTools for short. These tools have a wide range of features designed to make your debugging experience easier and more efficient. From error detection to setting breakpoints, tracking expressions, and checking performance, DevTools has got you covered.

The Best Websites for Testing Your Code Online

If you’re looking for a way to test your code online, look no further. In this comprehensive guide, I’ll introduce you to the top tools for online coding. These tools will not only help you sharpen your skills but also boost your productivity. So why wait? Dive in and start exploring!

When it comes to programming, I’ve discovered that IDEs (Integrated Development Environments) are like magical tools that can make your coding experience so much better. Just imagine having a super-powered built-in debugger right at your fingertips!

Two IDEs that I find particularly impressive are Aptana Studio 3 and Xamarin Studio. These bad boys come equipped with their very own powerful built-in debugger. So, here’s the deal: if you’re willing to put in a bit of time and effort to learn how to use them, I promise you, your life as a programmer will become so much easier.

10 Programming Habits You Should Embrace

But sometimes, even a skilled debugger can’t fully understand your code. So, when you’re unsure, why not add a log function to your code, like console.log for example? This way, you can easily check the values of variables without having to type them out or settle for a generic ‘It works!’ message. The internet is full of advanced and specific debugging techniques for every programming language.

Handy Guides & Visual Aids for Software Developers

If you’re just starting your programming journey or you simply enjoy learning new languages, you should definitely check out some cheatsheets and infographics. They provide valuable information in a concise and easy-to-understand format. Read more

7. Upgrade Your Editor

When you have the right editors, you can increase your knowledge and speed up project completion. No matter how experienced you are, it’s important to choose editors with code completion like Sublime Text, Visual Studio Code, and Aptana Studio 3.

Code completion is not only helpful for beginners to understand and learn the syntax, but it can also be used by professionals to find better codes or solutions. However, it’s important to note that not all IDEs support code completion for every language, so be sure to choose the right one.

Let’s talk about feature filtering.

One of the things I really like about MonoDevelop is its cool feature called code templates. With just a quick key combination, you can create your very own code template for everything from a simple switch statement to a complex manager script. This is especially helpful when you’re working on big projects, so you should definitely prioritize this feature when looking for an editor.

There are also some other important features you should keep an eye out for:

1. Debugger: This tool helps you find and fix errors in your code, making your programming life much easier.

2. Regex Replace: With regular expressions, you can easily search for and replace specific patterns of text in your code. This saves you tons of time and effort.

3. Macros: Macros allow you to record and replay a series of actions, making repetitive tasks a breeze.

4. Version Control Support: It’s crucial to have version control integrated into your editor. This allows you to track changes to your code, collaborate with others, and revert back to previous versions if needed.

5. Database Support: If you’re working with databases, having built-in support in your editor is a must. It makes managing and interacting with your database much smoother.

6. Split Editing: Splitting your editor window into multiple panes lets you work on different parts of your code simultaneously. This boosts your productivity and makes navigation easier.

7. Layout Customizer: Being able to customize the layout of your editor to suit your workflow and preferences is a great feature to have. It gives you the freedom to create an environment that works best for you.

8. WYSIWYG Editor: A “What You See Is What You Get” editor allows you to easily create and format content without needing to know any code. It’s perfect for creating web pages or documents with a visual interface.

So when you’re on the hunt for a code editor, keep all of these features in mind to ensure you find the perfect fit for your needs. Don’t forget to prioritize the code templates feature, as it can be a game-changer for your programming projects.

Sometimes in programming, we all make big mistakes. And when that happens, we often wish we could go back in time and undo those mistakes. But what if those mistakes involve multiple files in our codebase, some of which were modified a long time ago? It would be a real headache to revert everything back to the original and then try to update the code bit by bit, all while fixing bugs along the way. That would be a huge waste of time and effort.

That’s where a version control system comes in really handy. It’s an essential tool for programmers like you and me. With a version control system, you can go back to any previous version of your code with just a few simple steps. It’s like having a time machine for your code! You can easily find the exact point in time when everything was working perfectly, and then start from there. No more wasting time and energy on manual fixes and updates.

10 Programming Habits You Should Embrace

The World of Version Control Systems

When it comes to version control systems, there are many options to choose from. However, Git stands out as the most popular choice, with a vast array of online documentation to support you. With Git, you have the power to keep countless revisions, branch out your code for experimentation, easily track changes, and revert back to previous versions whenever you need.

Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? While Git was originally developed for team programming, it’s also an excellent choice for long-term personal projects. I understand that it might seem overwhelming at first, especially since there is a lot to learn, even with the GUI version. But trust me, it’s something you’ll need to learn sooner or later, so the sooner you start, the better. Plus, the internet is filled with tutorials and guides to help simplify the learning process for you.

9. Stick to Your Current Project – No Need for Extra Prototypes

Coding and debugging can be a real drag, both physically and emotionally. Sometimes, I find myself wanting to prototype my work even before it’s done. It might seem like a good idea at first, but it doesn’t actually help me escape from my work.

Instead, I’ve found a better way to blow off some steam. I like to do things that have nothing to do with coding, like exercising, playing games, or even reading. It’s important to keep a balance between work and everything else in life. Prototypes definitely don’t fall into that category.

By the way, did you know that there are 30 common reactions that programmers have when things go wrong? Developing applications can be really stressful, and nobody’s perfect. We all run into buggy code sometimes. If you’re curious, you can read more about it.

Oh, and one last thing: always be open to learning something new. It’s a great way to grow as a programmer.

I feel like I might disappear from this field pretty quickly. It seems like so many developmental approaches and programming languages have become outdated in just the last 10 years. It’s crazy to think that even if I graduate from a top university with a degree in this subject, it doesn’t guarantee that I’ll be ready for a job.

Should I Teach Myself or Go to College?

When I look at successful people in the tech industry, I can’t help but notice names like Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and Bill Gates. They didn’t all follow the same path. There’s a lot to consider when deciding whether to teach yourself or go to college.