New to Computer Science? Avoid These Programming Mistakes
My software architect liked to say, “Programming is like painting: there is a start and a finish, with many keystrokes in between.” In today’s programming world, there are more apps than ever for programmers to add their personal “keystrokes.”
Although the software architect designs software products, normally the core development is performed by contract programmers who adhere to and create clean, tight, and artful keystrokes with their keyboards.
However, not all programmers are classically trained in the art of programming. Sometimes, programming is a skill that is roughly developed, yet effective. Along the way, many pitfalls may seem like the correct path to pursue, only to find yourself backtracking and heading in another direction.
What Is the Art Known as Programming?
Programming may be defined as “creating a program which consists of a set of instructions designed by a human for a computer to understand and perform tasks or solve problems.” Coding is a programming subset based on a language the computer understands in order to execute the pre-defined processes.
Fortunately, programming is a rules-based discipline with many time-wasting pitfalls that you can avoid. Avoiding these pitfalls can save time and create more efficient and better-performing software products.
Read further to discover ten tips to help you avoid programming mistakes and become a better and more productive programmer.
10 Common Mistakes Programmers Should Avoid
These are 10 common mistakes that can disrupt programmers and should always be avoided.
A good acronym to remember is DRY, or “Don’t Repeat Yourself.” this simply means creating tight code with a focus on avoiding repetition. This condition can easily be created by copying and pasting code. Often, this will result in repetitive code that can negatively affect a software product’s performance. Using coding tricks such as creating loops and functions will help negate the tendency to use repetitive coding.
Lack of using variables
Instead of using variables in coding, values are often hard-coded, resulting in programming that is more rigid and challenging to maintain over the product’s life. Using variables will make the program more forgiving and flexible while delivering the intended performance.
Creating over-complicated code
Put simply, more complex code does not mean better code. The programming goal is to create an efficient, simple, and tight code to perform intended functions for a defined application. Simple code usually solves the underlying problem just as well. In addition, long-term maintenance of a more straightforward code base will be easier to support throughout the product’s life cycle.
These are some of the best programming books for references on how to write elegant and robust code.
Faulty or No backups
Not having adequate backups of a programming project is a common mistake that can easily be avoided. You can imagine the pain when your system runs out of resources or crashes for any reason, and you restart the system, and most of your work is gone. This scenario is harrowing, considering that solid backups would have saved all your work, and you could quickly resume your programming.
Failure to use a debugger
When you get a coding error and can’t figure out the issue, it is time to call on the program’s debugger to resolve the issue. First, the script is investigated line-by-line by using a debugger service. The debugger makes it possible to see how the code behaves and tag any programming issues for correction.
Messy code format and quality
One of the first issues an inexperienced programmer may commit is writing code in a sloppy format. Although the program may run correctly, unclear and messy code can make it a nightmare for others to maintain. On the other hand, writing tight, crisply written code makes life easier for everyone today and into the future.
Some easy coding mistakes for an experienced programmer to immediately detect are:
- Writing wrong variables with associated function names
- Sloppy indentations in the code
- Creating functions or lines that are too big and cramming everything into a single line, file, or function
- Lack of adding comments or making too many comments on the code – find a way to write concise notes for you and others to follow
Excessive hard coding
Embedding data into a program’s source code or executable objects can create different issues. Hard coding fixed values can come back to bite you at some point in the program’s life cycle. The objective is to design the code in a way where the program or objects call for data from other external sources or create it at run-time.
Writing code in a complicated language
Many languages, such as Java, Python, C++, HTML, and Ruby are available for writing code. Some languages may be much more complex than others, and writing in a language you need help understanding, but everyone is using. That is never a good idea, and you should decide on the language that best suits your skill level. Become more comfortable and confident with a language, progressing to the next one when ready.
Failure to have a plan
It is essential to have a plan when starting a new coding project. Inexperienced programmers can easily overlook the step of creating a plan. The more successful coding projects are well-thought-out before beginning the coding project. Some of the benefits of having a plan are as follows:
- Planning creates a template for code development through Research, Thinking, Planning, Writing, and Modifying before coding begins.
- With proper planning, the coding process may only require 10% of a developer’s time.
- Creating a plan helps to create the proper data structure for the project, from the beginning.
Failing to practice coding
There is a vast difference between the theory of coding and practicing the actual coding. By practicing with code, you may discover simple or complex mistakes. For example, the code may not execute correctly due to needing brackets in the right places or simply missing semi-colons.
Practicing your coding will pay big dividends further into the development cycle.