25 Tips for New Developers: Advice from a (Mostly) Self-Taught Software Engineer

by | Jun 29, 2020 | Technology News

One of the most common question asked by blog readers is “What are your tips for new programmers?” So, we thought it was time for us to write up our thoughts and Experience.

1. Have your reason, and remember it:

If we want to start programming, we need a reason for that. It can be that we love writing code, we need to have a much lucrative career, or that we are doing a bunch of Excel work and we want to make that more successful. We need to keep track of that reason; programming is hard, and we can get frustrated at times. It will be much needed to remember that reason and to stick with it.

2. Build a solid foundation:

The advice we will give now might sound very unique, but we think its really helpful. Before we start writing code, if we haven’t looked at math in a while, we would revise the logics from basic Algebra. Most of programming is built on mathematics like functions and variables. Revisiting these concepts besides programming will be quite valuable in the future.

3. Find a community:

One more thing that will be really helpful is finding a community to back us up as we start writing code. This community will be essential as other people will be in the same place as us, offer resources that helped them, and give us encouragement. We would suggest finding a meetup in our area as the top solution here, even small towns mostly have a group somewhat nearby.

4. Break down problems into smaller ones:

Another most important part of coding is taking a big problem and breaking it into smaller and simpler pieces until those pieces are solvable. If we are looking at a clean text editor not knowing where to start, it may be because we haven’t broken down the problem enough.

5. Pseudocode:

In reference to the previous point, a lot of times it is quite beneficial to note down in detail what we are trying to do in simple words before even trying to write code. This step is known as pseudocoding, and it can be done in whatever form we want it to. It can also assist us to solve a problem really slowly in hard form first, just thinking about or even writing down the individual steps we are taking to for solving that problem.

6. Embrace the cycle of learning:

If we are learning to code as a part time career, specially if we have been away from the classroom for a while, understanding how to learn is going to be a major part of our process. There are lots of highs and lows involved, which is very normal! we would brace ourselves for that ride before even starting out.

7. Start with free resources:

There are a thousands of resources for learning how to code. Some are without payment, and some are paid. we would start with the unpaid resources, first we have to make sure we like writing code, and then when we are sure, we can think about moving onto resources that are not free or even a bootcamp.

8. Find your niche:

As we know there are quite a lot of worlds within programming, we must find one world that we love the most and focus on that. Instead of trying to learn all programming languages, front-end and back-end, interpreted and compiled languages, all the editors and dev tools, etc. We should find a few things we are really interested in and get good at them.

9. Get good at pattern recognition:

To be able to recognize patterns in code is one of the most important skills we can have. When someone talk about writing “DRY” code (i.e., Don’t Repeat) they are mentioning reducing the patterns in our code. We suggest the game Set for pattern recognition — we can even play each day online on the website of New York Times.

10. Make good habits early:

It will be easier to design clean code in the future if we get into the habit early. Habits that are bad can be hard to stop. Some of our tips for writing cleaner code are: If we are doing web development, running HTML and CSS validators on our code can tell us exactly what to fix.

11. Identify your learning style:

Every person learns in a unique way — whether that means some are visual learners, love videos, need somebody to push them, or they love documentation, everybody will learn best differently than the person next to them. We should identify how we learn best, and rely on resources that fit that style well. For example, I learn best from reading blogs, documentations and code examples from them, and I cannot focus in tutorials.

12. Struggle, but not too much:

Putting efforts when we are learning is really important so that we can solve the problem our self and find an answer using resources that are already there. That being said, it can become unproductive and demotivate us to struggle with a problem for very long. After some time, we should reach out to someone for help.

13. Get comfortable with failure:

Coding is tough, and finding the right answer might not be immediate. One of the most pivotal moments in the programming journey can be failing at writing a Sudoku solver. It might be challenging to adjust to not getting everything right away and receiving those error messages, but that is a big part of programming.

14. Love your error messages:

Receiving error messages can be quite helpful, but when we are starting out that red error message might seem terrifying! One big step to take is to read through those error messages, keep them in mind, and then use them to solve the problem. In fact, you will get to a point where a program silently failing will be far more annoying than a useful error message.

15. Some programming languages are easier than others:

We cannot say there is one right answer for what programming language to learn first; however, some might be simpler to pick up than others. Our top of the list three are Python, Ruby, and JavaScript as these three have a large community behind them, they have simpler syntax, and are interpreted, so we do not need to go through a compiling process.

16. You don’t need to know everything:

This is straight up cent percent not possible to know everything about programming. Nobody knows all programming languages, every single technique that is out there, everything in the library and framework, or the perfect answer to every problem. We should not worry about learning everything, we should just focus on what we do know and extending that.

17. Depth over Breadth:

Getting 1 thing in depth is better than learning a small bit about a lot of things, specially at the start. This in-depth knowledge will continue over and make the learning of that next thing easier. We must put the shades on, so we do not get tempted to drop what we are learning and move to something new.

18. Focus on the fundamentals first:

The basics of programming are invaluable, and we will use them no matter what we end up doing with programming. We should focus on having a solid knowledge of loops, conditionals, functions, data types, and as in most languages object-oriented programming before moving on to learn about that amazing library that people are talking about. It will be so much easier to learn all that once we know the basics really well.

19. Get good at Problem-solving:

Being able to solve problems is the basis behind programming! Being good at this is critical. Solving riddles, writing code in hard form, and breaking the problems down can really help with problem-solving. Something we sometimes see with new devs is that we approach programming like a problem of research instead of a problem-solving project — if we Google something well enough, then we will have a solution. Yes, Google and Stack Overflow are super helpful, but we should rely on our self sometimes too.

20. Get good at researching:

Another big thing to learn is how to find good answers to our questions or to learn new features of our language or library. Using Google search is important, and also joining communities and subscribing to resources. The Google template people should use is “problem language/framework/library”, it has as few words as possible and without fillers.

21. Build projects you love:

When we are learning, we will be building various projects to practice and show off our skills. We should pick project ideas that are interesting to us; we will be much more likely to finish them and want to put our work into them. Related, we should complete those projects aswell. If we have a few really good finished projects, it is way more impressive than a bunch of half-finished ones.

22. Compare yourself to only yourself:

Quite a lot of people are learning to code out there nowadays. We should not compare our progress to others progress, we should instead compare ourselves to previous us and focus on our own growth.

23. Do a bunch of code challenges:

Every now and then doing quick code challenges can really help solidify the fundamentals. They can turn out to be great for problem-solving and practicing for interviews. You can find a post one on Twitter every day with the hashtag #CodingPuzzle if you want to solve and can get someone else to solve them with.

24. Celebrate your wins:

Learning to code can sometimes be a really difficult process, so when we accomplish something, even if its not so big, we should celebrate it! We can keep track of our wins in Google as well so, if we have a bad day, we can come back to those wins and remember them!

25. Programming is awesome:

In the end programming is simply just really cool because you get to build new things. Those of us who get to write software are very lucky. Designing and building software is a guiltless happiness as we get to use our creative energy to get stuff done.

By: Ali Spittel

#NoTesting?? Here’s what it means to me.

#NoTesting?? Here’s what it means to me.

20 Tips for working from home

Top 10 PHP Frameworks for Web Development

50 tips for improving your software development game

50 tips for improving your software development game

25 Tips for New Developers: Advice from a (Mostly) Self-Taught Software Engineer

25 Tips for New Developers: Advice from a (Mostly) Self-Taught Software Engineer

Developer Community’s 9 Tips for Coding Beginners

Developer Community’s 9 Tips for Coding Beginners

Top 5 Tips To Become a Better Software Engineer

Top 5 Tips To Become a Better Software Engineer

20 Tips for working from home

20 Tips for working from home

How to Be a Good Software Engineer: 6 Tips They Don’t Teach You at University

How to Be a Good Software Engineer: 6 Tips They Don’t Teach You at University

6 Tips For Someone Who Wants To Be A Software Developer

6 Tips For Someone Who Wants To Be A Software Developer

10 Habits of Highly Successful Software Developers

10 Habits of Highly Successful Software Engineers

19 Tips For Software Engineers In 2020

19 Tips For Software Engineers In 2020

5 Tips for Aspiring Software Engineers:

5 Tips for Aspiring Software Engineers

Let's start a project together.

We make all your dreams come true in a successful project.