Programming. To some, it’s an art where, with a few (thousand) keystrokes, magic can happen. To others, it’s a job that can pay lots of money. Many call it the future, with hundreds of programs and gizmos designed to teach programming to children and thousands of people seeking retraining or education to enter the field.
With the vast amount of information and resources available on the internet, it’s never been easier to learn a programming language.
The real question is: Where does one begin? There is no one simple answer to this question, but here are some tips for starting out:
1. Ask questions.
It is absolutely imperative to ask questions or seek help. Whether it be a colleague, a professor, or an internet forum, chances are someone has had the same problem you’re experiencing and has solved it. Sometimes, merely expressing the problem you are having in words can clear up issues and present a solution before you finish asking.
2. Break big problems into small problems.
It sounds simple, but it really does work. Consider a modern family home, with all the wiring, plumbing, brickwork, etc. These things are not all done in a day. A homebuilder takes a blueprint and works on one piece at a time. First, he lays the foundation, then the frame goes up, then the roof, walls, wiring, etc, each in their turn until the domicile is complete. Programming isn’t much different. Bigger projects can almost always be broken down in smaller, more manageable parts.
3. Use Version Control.
There is an old adage that goes, “The three most important words in computing are: backups, backups, backups.” This is very true with programming. There are few feelings worse than having a computer crash, erasing months or even years of hard work. Version control, such as git or Subversion, functions like a backup but is so much more. It facilitates cooperation by allowing multiple developers to edit the same code and then gives the ability merge those different changes together seamlessly.
4. Use proper posture.
Proper posture while programming can save you not only the pain and suffering of carpal tunnel and repetitive stress injuries, but also the cost of surgery and occupational therapy, as well as doing the things you love. The sad thing is that this advice is really easy to ignore, and by the time you are aware of the issue, the damage is done and the road to recovery can be long, especially if you program for a living. Take care of yourself.
5. Document your code.
It is easy to work on something, get it working, then simply move on because, it works, right? Wrong. It will break. It might not be today or next week, but it will, and when it does, you will not remember what you were thinking at the time. Using proper documentation, when you or, more likely, someone else reads the code, they know what it does and can fix it without having to parse each line.
In summary, programming requires a unique approach to problem solving and is a challenging yet rewarding career or hobby. It’s truly a rewarding feeling to build something from scratch that provides a solution to a problem.
If programming isn’t for you, SandStorm IT can custom build a solution specific to your needs. Our team of highly experienced software developers are more than capable of tackling any project! For more information, contact SandStorm IT at 901-475-0275.