10 Tips For New Coders
Published on 7 October 2022 at 13:45 by
I've been reading and writing code since the year 2000. Before we had Stack Overflow and Codeacademy, we had two real resources for learning: giant dusty tomes filled with scraps of paper, and websites like PlanetSourceCode where you could download zips of entire projects.
I didn't always have access to the internet back then, but I had an old computer, a collection of 3½-inch 1.44 MB floppy disks, and legs, so I'd walk to friends houses and download as much code as I could fit on the floppy disks then go home to take it all apart. When I got stuck, I'd call my mentor who had a seemingly endless supply of both enthusiasm and patience.
I can't recall much of what I created during those formative years, but I do remember the process I followed.
So here are 10 tips for new coders.
1. Don't be afraid to ask for help
Nobody knows everything and everyone was a beginner once. Asking for help is a perfectly normal and acceptable thing to do when coding.
2. Start small
Don’t try to tackle a huge project right off the bat. Start with something small and simple to get the hang of the basics. Building a proof of concept is much easier than building a product, so build small and build often.
3. Read other people's code
One of the best ways to learn how to code is to read other people's code. Not only will you learn new techniques, but you'll also get a feel for how other people think about coding and problem solving.
4. Write your own code
Don't just copy and paste other people's code. Try to write your own code as much as possible. Not only will this help you learn, but you'll also develop your own style and approach to coding.
Coding is all about trial and error. Don't be afraid to experiment with different code to see what works and what doesn't.
6. Take breaks
Coding can be mentally taxing. Make sure to take breaks every now and then to clear your head and come back refreshed. Here's an interesting article I read recently on why this may be.
7. Organise your code
Keep your code organised and tidy. Not only will this make it easier for you to find things, but it will also make it easier for others to read and understand your code.
8. Use comments
Use comments to explain what your code does. This will help you remember what you did later on, and it will also help others who read your code. Here are two functions I wrote a while back, and without those comments, I'd be lost reading it now.
9. Version control
Version control (also referred to as source code management) is important for keeping track of changes to your code. Make sure to use some form of version control (like Git) so you can easily revert back to previous versions if needed.
In the old days, it was common to make changes locally and upload files via FTP and just overwrite previous versions. It was wild.
10. Have fun!
Coding can be challenging, but it can also be fun. Don't forget to enjoy the process and the satisfaction that comes with solving coding problems.
If you enjoyed this, take a look at some of my other posts and follow me for more coding content.