Coding can be a fun and rewarding activity, whether it’s just a hobby or a career.
While anybody can write code, it can often take years of practice to become an amazing programmer. That doesn’t mean you have to wait years to be able to write great code, however.
These tips will help you kick your coding skills into high gear, and help you become a better programmer in a much shorter time.
Comments Are Your Friend
There’s nothing more irritating that picking up an old project or someone else’s project and having no idea what’s going on.
Maybe there’s a section of code that’s giving you fits, and you want to check out solutions later. You might have to walk away from your code for a while. You could even be collaborating with team members.
Whatever your situation is, leaving comments in your code can help. They can tell you where the programmer left off, what they wanted the code to do, and where they were having issues. Comment away!
White Space Equals Great Code
Code that is hard to read is not great code. The human eye doesn’t do very well with bricks of text, which is why we split things up into paragraphs and sentences.
The code shouldn’t be any different. When you space your code out, you’re making it easier to read and work with. It will be easier to spot errors, find specific items, and edit the code.
Even if you’re worried about the size of a file, white space usually only adds a few kilobytes to the overall size. In the end, whitespace is a good thing.
Keep It Simple
As a programmer, you might be tempted to show off your skills while writing code. Sure, you can write a function that handles twenty different objects, but why would you want to?
The more complicated you make your code, the messier it gets. It’s harder to read, easier to break, and harder to find out what’s wrong. The best way to combat this is by keeping things simple.
Ideally, each function should only handle one action, and each class should just handle one concept. If you must have a complex function, you can break it down with helper functions to keep things simple.
Clean It Up
As your code evolves, you’re going to end up with bits that don’t work anymore, or have become obsolete.
While you could comment this code out, there’s no real reason to leave it in. You might feel the need to leave it in to show where your code has been, or in case an updated version breaks something.
Early on, this may be fine in small amounts, but eventually, you’ll want to remove it. It’ll make the code easier to read, for one thing. For another, why keep it around if the newer code works better with no problems?
Another way to make sure you have excellent code is by being descriptive when you name things.
There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to fix an error when you can’t remember which function does what. Sure, functions named with just one letter or an acronym of the letters, such as dbf instead of a database file, may look cool, but they’re just difficult to understand.
Ask yourself: Are you going to remember what that means six months from now? What if it’s someone else’s project that you inherited?
By keeping things descriptive, you’ll save time, keep your code neat, and avoid future developers of the system many headaches.
To ensure that you have great code, you have to make sure it works the way it’s supposed to.
This can be accomplished by simply running tests once the build is done, but that can lead to sloppy code and unexpected behavior. It may still get the job done, but it probably won’t be pretty. You’re also more prone to bugs this way.
It’s better to test the code as you go. This way, you can catch potential issues early on, and fix code that isn’t doing what it’s supposed to.
Being able to spot errant behavior as you will save you time and frustration, as well as make your job easier and your code awesome.
Every programmer has their particular preferences about how they write their code. You’ve probably seen a few different styles as you learned to code, yourself.
The trick to creating great code is to pick your particular style and stick with it. Ideally, your code should be the same from start to finish. Your code will be cleaner, you’ll be able to find things easier, and the code will function better.
Have Persistence And Dedication
It’s no secret that coding can be difficult, even for seasoned professionals. You’re going to run into bugs, glitches, and problems that seem unsolvable from time to time. There’s just no way around that.
The only way to get around them is by being persistent, and slogging right through them. It’s okay to take a break if you’re too frustrated to think straight. What you can’t afford to do is to walk away altogether, or keep thinking that you’ll just do it later.
In this case, later often ends up becoming never. Can your project afford that? After all, you won’t be able to keep walking away every time you run into the same problem, no matter what the project is.
By learning how to solve it now, you grow as a programmer, and you make your job easier. Just remember, it’s not going to solve itself!
Research Your Problems
The great thing about being a programmer now is the fact that the internet has so much information to offer you.
It doesn’t matter what the issue is; there’s a very good chance that someone else has had it before you. It’s even more likely that they’ve posted about it, and the solution they found, online.
By researching the problem online, you’ll save yourself some of a headache, time, and frustration you’d have ended up dealing with trying to figure it out on your own.
Once you find the solution, you don’t want just to copy and paste it and move on though. Take the time to find out where the issue was, and understand what they did to solve it.
This will bring you a better understanding of the code and your abilities. It will also make it easier for you to solve problems in the future, and write better code, to begin with.
Don’t Be Afraid To Use Tools
From coding playgrounds to ways to share your code with the world, there are many tools available for programmers to use. It may feel a bit like cheating, but in reality, it often makes you a better coder.
They can let you preview your work, show you where you might have messed something up, and even provide inspiration for you if you need a jump start.
If you’re a web developer, don’t be afraid of using plugins that make your job easier, either. They’ll keep things neater, and free you up to finish more projects!
We have some interviews with great WordPress developers – take a look at and get tips that can save you hours of work!
What are your favorite programming tips? Tell us below in the comments, and don’t forget to subscribe to our mailing list, so you never miss any useful tips!