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Tips to Help You Become a Better Coder

Sometimes, the hardest thing when it comes to the process of software or website development is writing code. If everything isn’t organized right from the beginning, the process of coding and the management of the code afterward can wind up giving you and others a massive headache. Here’s a quick look at a few tips (in no particular order) that can help you to become better at this crucial skill.

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Use Tools

There are tools like Phing and Ant that can assist you with getting your source compressed, prepared, and deployed. There are also technical writing tools that can help with your documentation. Just as with carpentry – or anything else – there are tools there to make the job easier, so why not make use of them?

Coding Standard

Let’s face it – it’s all too easy to write unorganized, just downright bad code. That being said, it’s difficult to keep up with it. Whether you’re designing a landing page or coding a piece of software, good code tends to follow some sort of standard for formatting, naming conventions, etc. These standards are good because they make things a bit deterministic to people who come behind you and read your code – and for yourself too.

While it’s possible to create a coding standard of your own, it’s typically better to stick with one that has a wider acceptance. This makes it easier for other people to adapt your work down the road.

Comment Usefully

Comments are vital. You’ll never appreciate how to write comments properly until you leave a 1,000 line script for a few days before coming back to try to make any sense of it. Comments that are useful can make life much easier for you and anyone who comes behind you to maintain it.

Write comments that are meaningful and single line for lines that are vague. For methods and functions, write comments that are full parameters or descriptions of the functionality. If you have tricky logic blocks, make sure that you describe that logic in words right before it. Finally, always, always, always keep your comments current.

Refactor

Refactoring code is a good habit that highly effective developers have. Whether or not you believe it, you ought to be refactoring code daily or it won’t remain healthy. The thing is, how and what should you refactor?

You need to be refactoring everything, from the architecture to the number of arguments a method receives, variables names, and methods and functions. The how when it comes to refactoring is more of an art than it is a science.

Global Code

Global loops and variables can be a mess and may prove to be problematic once your code grows to millions of lines. They can also influence the code later and make it difficult to make out or even lead to noisy naming clashes. Before polluting the global namespace with loops, functions, variables, etc. think twice.

In the previous paragraphs, you read an overview of some best practices when it comes to writing better code. This included using a standard of coding to unify the format of the code across an entire team, how important it is to refactor, as well as how to embrace it, and how vital it is to utilize professional tools for things like technical documentation, version control, code documenters, and testing frameworks to assist with managing the overall codebase. If you aren’t already following these tips and tricks, it’s well worth the effort for you to adopt them so that you’re better able to make sure that your entire team gets and stays on track.

 

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