5 Great Ways to Become a Better Coder

Are you a professional coder? It’s time to get serious about improving your skills and upgrading your game.

If you’re looking to fill your to-do-better list, let me share with you 5 actionable ways:

1. Learn more. Always be in the student mode.

It’s 2017 and I see coders operating like it’s 2009. Technology changes fast. Don’t get left behind.

You can go to conferences, read blogs, magazines, social media posts and websites, watch tutorials or join a mailing list. Want more ideas? I compiled a list of 50 best resources when learning to code and most of them are free.

Consistency and never-ending improvement is the key to stay in the student mode. Be curious, ask questions and don’t assume you know best.

Technology changes fast. Don’t get left behind.

Frustrations abound when learning how to develop better but hopefully, the tips above made you feel more confident in your quest to become a master at your craft.

2. Practice!

Aside from following tutorials, you should work on your own projects.

The most fundamental thing is that you actually go and code. I’ve heard it recommended that by the time you finish college, you should have written 100,000 lines at minimum.

— Andrei Thorp from Evernote

But how do I get started, you may ask.

I always tell people to find something they’re doing more than once a week and to try to automate it. Ignore if anyone else has solved the problem before, and just make a tool/utility for yourself that fixes a common issue in your life.

— Kasra Rahjerdi, Mobile Lead at Stack Overflow.

Like any other skill, it takes practice — deliberate practice, stepping outside of your comfort zone and learning the nuance and subtleties — that sets apart the great from the good.”

— Derick Bailey, the creator of WatchMeCode.net.

Derick is a top 0.42% StackOverflow user and has also contributed to open source frameworks such as  MarionetteJS and BackboneJS.

It’s OK to fail. Coding is all about failing and fixing things, and about learning how to do things better. If you don’t build things and work on areas that you know you are weak on, you’ll never get better.

If you ever need to receive advice on how to improve, feel free to ask an experienced developer. He can help you get straightened up by either reviewing your code or walking you through concepts you are having trouble understanding.

3. Follow this tricky formula:

1) Write cool stuff you don’t totally understand

2) Break stuff horribly

3) Figure out why it is broken

4) Fix it well, and think about what else is going to go wrong with it

5) Repeat

Don’t be afraid to break stuff, but don’t cut corners to fix it either. Neatly format your code, and put a lot of comments on anything you write so when you look at it later you know where your mind was at the time.

4. Be patient

No-brainer here, but it’s easy to get frustrated by your lack of progress and forget that you’re not alone.

Becoming a good programmer takes a long, long time and a lot of tedious evenings. Before you can write good code, you have to write hundreds of thousands of lines.

— Mike Arpaia, a former Etsy dev who now builds information security software for Facebook

Mike stresses that beginners should give up on the assumption that one can become an excellent developer quickly.

But… what if you’re not even past the tutorial stages yet? What if you’re still banging your head against the wall and wondering whether you’re just not cut out for programming? Before you leap to conclusions, know that everyone has a different learning style. The author of the Ruby on Rails Tutorial, Michael Hartl, points out that beginners should try lots of different resources (books, videos, etc.) to see what ‘clicks’.

In fact, Craig Coffman, the CTO of Reserve, has personally learned through a lot of trial-and-error attempts and by picking projects that were personal and interesting. However, since all the interesting challenges are big ones, he suggests starting with biting off reasonably-sized pieces.

That way, when you lose interest or get stuck, you still have a feeling of progress and accomplishment.

5. Show Gratitude

A Harris Poll on behalf of the University of Phoenix that surveyed over 1,000 U.S. adults who work full time in HR or senior management. The study showed that 51% of managers who used public recognition and 54% of managers who used rewards to solicit ideas were better able to encourage innovation.

Saying “thank you” is good for your health and good for the bottom line, too. Acknowledging fundraisers’ work with donors led to a 50% increase in their productivity, according to Harvard Health.


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Pavel Malos

Creating Digital Experiences @ BootstrapBay