Tips and tricks from practice: how to learn coding and avoid unnecessary mistakes?

There is a Slovak proverb that says “to err is human”. However, many of us wish to make as few mistakes as possible and avoid unnecessary mistakes as much as possible. In this article, we will discuss some of the most common mistakes developers make when learning a programming language (such as Java) and offer solutions to prevent them. We’ll also provide some useful tips to help you improve your programming skills.

Learning multiple programming languages at the same time

Trying to learn multiple programming languages at the same time is a terrible idea. You’ll feel confused and keep going back to the parts you’ve already studied in detail, that’s how it actually was. It will also be bad if you start with one language and switch to another in a few weeks. Pick one language, stick to it and get better at it. You can choose another language later, once you’ve learned the first one, but avoid jumping between languages.

Writing code without prior analysis

Writing code right away without a proper analysis of the problem is definitely a bad idea. So you don’t have to really understand the requirements and the scope of the problem, nor will you consider other possible scenarios. Sometimes the solution to a problem that first comes to mind is not optimal, and investing a little more time in analyzing the problem at the beginning can save us time later in a more efficient implementation.

Not backing up work

This is one of the most excusable mistakes you can make as a developer, even if you’re a beginner. Imagine you’ve been working on a project for a long time, solving a lot of complicated problems, and then one day the disk crashes and you lose all your work. You’ll get really annoyed and wish you had saved your source files first.

Ignoring documentation

Documentation is an important part of any project. It’s a way to record basic information about how your code works, how to use it, and how other developers can maintain it. Ignoring the documentation is a mistake you shouldn’t make.

Too complicated code

You’re not out to prove to the world that you know the most complex functions and all the libraries mankind has ever created. Your main goal when writing code should be to solve problems in the most efficient way. If your code is simple, it is easier to write, maintain, and manage. Let’s keep it simple – follow the KISS(Keep It Simple, Stupid ) principle as much as possible.

Repeating code

If you find yourself repeating code, you’re breaking one of the most fundamental rules of software development for programmers – DRY(Don’t repeat yourself ). You should always strive to follow this rule and write “clean code”. If you notice that you are copying parts of the code, you need to realize that you are probably deviating from the DRY principle and should correct yourself. This situation can often be solved by using cycles and functions. Built-in libraries(framework(s)) can also be very useful.

Adding many rows to one function

You can multitask, but that doesn’t mean you should. Stick to the principle of single responsibility, which states that a function should be responsible for only one thing. If one function performs multiple tasks, you’re practically asking for mistakes and a negative impact on many other things.

Unclear variable names

Variables are a critical part of programming, regardless of the language used. That’s why it’s important to form good habits when naming variables. If you use general terms that are vague, you can create a lot of chaos later on. Your code may work correctly, but when you go back and look at your code later, you may get lost trying to figure out what’s going on in it and what the variable represents. Moreover, if you work in a team, you can undoubtedly become the laughing stock of your more experienced colleagues because of your non-specific variable names.

Bad formatting

A lot of beginners don’t want to worry about proper formatting, because code can work flawlessly even if the formatting is messy and inconsistent. However, in the future it will cause you big problems in maintenance and further code continuation… and for the next programmer it will be even more of a problem if he has to maintain and continue the code.

Some common code formatting errors include:
– not using the correct indentation in the code
– irregular use of new lines and whitespace or adding everything on one line
– writing functions that are too large or condensing everything into a single line, function or file
– random use of upper and lower case letters in variable names.

This is certainly not a list of all formatting errors. There are many other formatting mistakes you can make in your code, especially if you’re a beginner.

Make sure you write well-structured code that is clean, readable and easy to maintain. Follow code formatting standards and use proper indentation, spacing, and indenting.

Magic numbers and strings

A magic number is a unique value with unexplained meaning or several occurrences that should ideally be replaced by named constants.

Neglecting error control

Take care of your code! Never trust user input and always verify input before processing it. Be careful when handling memory and files, and make sure you handle exceptions and errors correctly.

Reprinting comments

If your code is easy to read, you don’t need to add unnecessary comments. However, if your code is quite complex and requires explanation, you should add comments in certain places so that other people reading your code can better understand its intent. After all, the code should be readable and easy to understand even without a lot of comments.

Don’t stop learning

In software development, continuous learning and improvement is very important. Technology is dynamically evolving and changing, so you should strive to continuously educate and improve yourself. Read books, articles, follow online courses and constantly solve new problems to develop your programming skills.

If you avoid these mistakes, you’ll be well on your way to efficient and clean coding in any programming language. Remember that programming is a process of learning and continuous improvement, so don’t be too hard on yourself. With time and experience, you will definitely become a better developer.

Learn from other people’s mistakes, because life is not long enough to make them all yourself.

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About the author

Jozef Wagner

Java Developer Senior

Viac ako 10 rokov programujem v Jave, momentálne pracujem v msg life Slovakia ako Java programátor senior a pomáham zákazníkom implementovať ich požiadavky do poistného softvéru Life Factory. Vo voľnom čase si rád oddýchnem v lese, prípadne si zahrám nejakú dobrú počítačovú hru.

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