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Category: Coding

5 Tips to Help You Debug Code — The Easy Way

There’s perhaps nothing more frustrating than writing code that doesn’t end up producing the desired result. When that happens, you must go back through your code to find the error and fix it. Visual Studio and other debugging tools can help, but the real solution comes from you. You need to have a plan on how to approach this trying problem whenever bugs get in the way of having flawless code. To help you out, here’s what to do.

Find the Error

While you could go through your code line by line, a debugging tool is key in finding the problem fast. Visual Studio is a popular option, but it’s not the only tool you have at your disposal.

Other code debugging tools include:

  • GDB
  • ReSharper
  • Chrome DevTools
  • PlatformIO
  • Memfault

With your tool of choice at your side, simply put your code into the system and let it reveal the errors. Then, take the time to reflect on why the system generated that error and figure out how to fix it. 

Ask Google

Don’t be afraid to ask Google whenever you don’t immediately recognize the error and understand how to resolve the issue in full. Chances are good that someone has run into the same problem and asked for advice on forums and other online communities.

For the best chance at finding the answers you seek, do a detailed search with all the error data and the name of the programming language you’re using. Then, use only the most recent sources since coding technology can quickly change, making old solutions obsolete.

Talk It Out

Rubber duck debugging is a time-honored tradition in the coding world. This approach allows you to talk through every line of your code, potentially resulting in you gaining a new perspective on the data.

While a rubber duck is the ideal audience for solo programmers, it’s often better to bring in a fellow coder whenever possible. That way, you’ll have a second set of eyes on the problem as you go through your code from start to finish.

Step Away

Sometimes, when you’re too close to the problem, it’s almost impossible to find the right answer. Avoid that by giving yourself permission to walk away when the error starts to feel way too challenging to overcome.  

Go out for a brisk walk in the fresh air, get a cup of coffee, or simply close up shop for the day. When you come back to address the issue, you’ll have a better chance of seeing the issue differently and thinking up lasting solutions.

Squash the Bug

Skip the urge to put a band-aid on the problem just to get the code up and running fast. Instead, aim to fully squash the bug for good, so it doesn’t come back to haunt you.

Otherwise, future changes could bring the bug back, resulting in even more problems with your program. Worse yet, the temporary fix could bring even more bugs to the forefront of your program, resulting in errors and crashes galore.

To avoid that, simply test your code once you’ve enacted a solution for the error at hand. Run tests on each section of your codebase for the best results. Then, fix whatever bugs show up during the tests to create clean code that will withstand the test of time.

Debugging is a part of life when you enter the world of programming. So, create a plan to follow whenever problems arise, and you’ll give yourself the best chance of finding and fixing the problem fast.

Why Code Should Be Beautiful

When you think of beauty, you’re more likely to think of an attractive person or a piece of art. Perhaps it conjures up images of a breathtaking landscape or sunset or another aesthetically-pleasing image. In coding, however, beauty refers to something more simplistic, and it’s an important element of writing clean code.

Code bases can become extremely complex. Google’s Chrome browser runs on 6.7 million lines of code. The Android operating system has more than 12 million lines. Microsoft Windows OS has 50 million lines of code.

When codes get complex, it can be difficult for software engineers to navigate, especially if they weren’t part of the original development team. Beautiful code takes this complexity and makes it simple for others to understand.

Making your code beautiful means:

  • Removing unnecessary code.
  • Eliminating the need for long comments within the code to explain sequences.
  • Avoiding repetition and redundancy.
  • Minimize functionality unless necessary.
  • Limiting functions to a single thing.
  • Using fewer arguments per function.

The Benefits of Beautiful Code

While programs are executed by machines, they have to be read by people. While machines do not care about beauty in code, people do. That’s why the first two principles behind the Python programming language focus on beauty and explicitly.

Engineers will often spend more time understanding what code does than actually writing new code. Using explicit variables, functions, and consistent naming conventions, for example, helps engineers understand code.

Reduces Technical Debt

Writing beautiful code also reduces technical debt.

Technical debt is the cost of additional rework caused by code that is written to solve a challenge without regard for a better approach. For example, a developer may trade speed for quality (or speed for beauty) to speed time to market. However, this “ugly code” may add additional complexity or cause problems elsewhere.

Technical debt can triple the cost of support for products and services while hindering a company’s ability to make changes quickly. Engineers may have to weed through lines of code or artifacts that are unnecessary to find what needs to be fixed. Documentation or comments may be missing to help navigate.

The cost of overcoming technical debt can be significant, both for software developers and customers. If there is a defect, it takes time and money to fix. Beautiful code reduces technical debt, lowering the total cost of ownership (TCO) for maintenance and support.

Increases Software Stability

Beautiful code also provides a greater level of stability in final applications. Code will fit together well and withstand changes more easily. By comparison, poorly-written code or code that is complex can make it difficult to understand the impact of changes and how they might affect other portions of the software, resulting in additional testing and rework.

For example, when functions are written to accomplish multiple things, you might break portions of the code when trying to fix things. Partial changes inside a class or function can create a domino effect that requires additional remediation.

With beautiful code, there is a highly-defined structure and order in the way code is written and laid out.

Limits Re-Use

One of the ways developers streamline the coding process is to reuse components. Beautiful code is clean and allows DevOps teams to plug and play certain code sections. Poorly designed code limits this ability to repurpose, resulting in potentially longer time to market and increasing the possibility of bloated code.

Writing Beautiful Code

One thing to note is that beauty in coding doesn’t always mean simplifying the code to the least number of lines. It means writing code in a way that is the simplest for others to understand.

Unlike beautiful things in life, this may not mean that the code is as aesthetically pleasing as possible. Rather, the beauty lies in the ability of others to understand it and work with it efficiently.

5 Reasons to Learn to Code

In today’s high-tech world, coding is the language that drives almost everything. People use computers to do anything from turning their lights on to parking their cars — that all requires someone who took the time to learn code. So why should you learn to code? 

1. Coding Is About Problem-Solving

Coding teaches you the art of looking at the big picture and then breaking it down into smaller, more manageable bites. This skill set would translate into most areas of your life, which can be full of problems. You could apply it to your finances, for example. Instead of looking at debt as one large number, coding could teach you to break it down and manage each piece as a separate unit. 

2. Coding Can Improve Your Productivity

Learning to code can also change the way you think about things. It teaches you to spot ways to multitask, for example. That may mean you can save time during your day. It will also give you the skill set to automate tasks you use software for, such as spreadsheets. You will be able to spot ways to combine elements and write a script or formula to make it work. 

3. Coding May Give You Job Security

Understanding even basic code could make you the go-to person at work. It also tells your employer that you are smart and resourceful. They will see you are willing to learn new things and might be interested in new opportunities. They might be able to pay you more and internalize some previously outsourced tasks such as webpage administration. 

4. Coding Can Turn Your Ideas Into Apps

You could be the next Steve Jobs, but you’ll never know if you can’t write code. You could turn a great idea into an app that brings in revenue or helps others. By being able to build the app yourself, you also save money and don’t have to share your idea with anyone else. 

5. Because It Is Fun

Coding is art for some. It takes creativity and imagination. It is something you can do in front of the TV the same way your mom used to knit. 

Coding is addictive once you get into it. It is a challenge that people spend years trying to master, and there are always new things to learn. 

Coding teaches you how things work, and that is something you can use in every aspect of your life. 

 

Staying the Course: 5 Hacks to Keep Going When Learning to Code

The vast world of code can feel daunting at first glance. Then, as you dive into the learning process, things only seem to get worse from there. The problem is that there’s a huge learning curve to get over, threatening to end your coding dreams before you even truly get started. Fortunately, you can ensure you stay the course by using these five hacks to keep going when learning to code.

Clearly Define Your Learning Goals

When first starting to learn how to code, you need a plan. You cannot jump in and learn all the different programming languages at once nor do you need to know them all. Instead, you should reflect on your end goal, and then choose your focus language to start.

If you want to get into web development, for example, focus on Java. Want to make apps instead? Then, Python is the better way to go. Either one will help you develop your foundational skills, making it easier to learn new languages in the future.

Focus on One Tutorial at a Time

Coding tutorials abound online, giving you tons of opportunities to learn without shelling out the big bucks. While it’s nice to have options, the sheer overload of tutorials can prove detrimental to your journey. Decision paralysis often kicks in when presented with too many options, after all.

So, reflect on your goals, pick just one tutorial from the bunch, and focus on it – and it alone – until it’s done. Then, repeat that process until you’ve made your way through enough tutorials to start creating your own projects.

Think It Out with Your Rubber Ducky

Even with the most helpful tutorials on your side, you’re bound to get stuck on a seemingly unsolvable problem. When that happens, you need to bust out your rubber ducky for a nice, relaxing debugging session.

Rubber ducky debugging starts with you telling your newfound friend about your code and what it’s supposed to do. Then, go through your code line by line to explain the process in more detail. By the end, you’ll find where you went wrong, and your ducky can feel good about being such a big help.

Give Yourself Brain Breaks Often

Your brain can only maintain focus for so long before it starts to go on the fritz. To avoid that, you need to take regular brain breaks just like the old days in elementary school. Spending just five to ten minutes doing something else can refresh your mind and ready you for more coding madness.

So, break out the puzzle games, draw a picture, or even just gaze off into the distance. If you can work exercise into the mix, you’ll be even better off. A short walk around the block never fails to feel rejuvenating, especially if a friend can join you.  

Show Off Your Accomplishments

Learning how to code can feel like an endless journey toward more and more difficult problems. To break up the process, you need to show off your accomplishments and get accolades coming your way.

The recognition you receive for your efforts can prove highly motivating, restoring your love for your coding journey. So, sing your own praises far and wide, and then get back to it by selecting your next tutorial.

By fluidly moving through these steps, you can push yourself through the difficult moments as you learn how to code. It’s also helpful to remember that the learning process will get easier as you wrap your mind around each programming language. 

How to Self-Assess Your Coding Journey

While learning how to code, the last thing you want to do is delude yourself. You need to be able to make an honest assessment of your skills, after all. Or you could end up majorly embarrassed upon overstating your abilities to the wrong person. Since that’s definitely not what you want, it’s best to learn how to accurately self-assess your coding journey from the start. Here’s how.

Use HackerRank to Solve Problems

Start by assessing your algorithmic skills using HackerRank by InterviewStreet. This innovative platform rolls out the programming challenges, so you can find out exactly where you’re at in your learning journey.

The system starts by sending out ACM-style problems for you to solve. You’ll then move on to AI, machine learning, and so much more, depending on your skill level. All along the way, the system will provide an objective score and even issue badges for your hard work.

Try to move through as many tests as you can over one weekend to get a baseline score. Then, repeat this process whenever you feel like you’ve gained enough new skills to warrant a retry.

Build a Complete Product with UI

After finishing your weekend of coding tests, move on to creating your very own product with UI. You can focus on creating an app, website, or gaming product. Just be sure to focus on getting it up and running properly – and coded well enough for a non-technical person to understand and use.

Start by planning out your concept on paper. Then, sketch out how you want it to look and function. After that, decide which programming language you want to use to get the job done. From there, you just have to start coding to create the product from start to finish.

Just be sure to keep your rubber ducky handy in case you need help debugging your code. Your ducky will prove invaluable whenever you need to get around challenges standing in your way of a finished product.

Complete a Self-Evaluation on Paper

If you’re satisfied with your results from the prior two steps, go ahead and start completing a self-evaluation assessment on paper. To do that, write out all your skills, certificates, and other achievements, including all products made to completion. Don’t forget to add any relevant job experience as well, so you can get a full look at your coding journey to date.

Once you finish doing that, you’ll have a clear map of your coding journey to review. Think about where you might have gaps in your skills or experience. Compare your journey to the greats in your field.

Where can you improve? Upon answering that question, you’ll have a clear path forward to follow. Repeat this process every time you create a new product, finish a full set of tutorials, or hit any other learning milestones.

By the end of these steps, you’ll have a pretty good idea on where you’re at in your coding journey. With that info in mind, you can decide what you need to learn more about, and then get started on doing more tutorials. 

5 Fundamentals For Becoming A Full Stack Developer

A full-stack developer plays an incredibly important job for any business. These talented professionals can develop both the front end and the back end of software. They can not only program the server but they can also program the browser and databases.

Those interested in pursuing this career path should fully prepare themselves for the challenges they will be called upon to solve. Here are 5 fundamentals to know before diving into the field.

5. Front end languages

To work on the front end of the development of software and apps, you will need to have fluency in common front-end languages. At a minimum, you want to make sure you are familiar with core languages like HyperText Markup Language (HTML), Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), and Javascript. To build your resume, however, you also want to study and master frontend frameworks like Angular, Vue, and React. 

4. Backend languages

Backend languages are often viewed as more technical and have a greater role in ensuring the programs and software work correctly. The language you will need for a particular project will vary depending on factors such as the operating system you need and whether you want to create a web application or a mobile application. Some of the most common backend languages you want to study include Ruby, Java, Python, and PHP. You also want to learn common frameworks, such as Django and Flask. 

3. Database systems

Database management can also be an important part of being a full-stack developer. Database management can help businesses keep track of data that comes into their organization. It allows businesses to track the data throughout the lifecycle and thereby better understand the customers.

Some basic database management systems you will need to know include MySQL, Microsoft Access, and Oracle. Studying these fundamental systems within database management will help you build your resume within this area of the field.

2. Website architecture

Website architecture describes how a particular website is organized. It explores the hierarchy of the pages within the site and how these different factors impact the experience of the customer as they interact with the site.

To build your core skills in website architecture, you want to understand important user interface elements, how cloud storage works, the domain name system, some core principles of designing websites, and database servers.

1. A stand-out portfolio

At the core, a career as a full stack developer calls for professionals who can manage site and app development from beginning to end. Those hiring in the field want to see how well you can perform in these different areas. They know that earning certificates and degrees matter less than genuine mastery of the different subject areas. 

Therefore, creating a portfolio that demonstrates your skills in the different areas and your understanding of the core principles of software and application design will help to set you apart from the competition. An outstanding portfolio can go a long way in getting you an interview. Many job interviews will also include a technical portion that will have you further demonstrate your skills to the potential employer.

Making the transition to becoming a full-stack developer

Now that you see the major skills involved in full-stack development, it is time to consider how to make the transition personally. Find educational opportunities that will help you earn certifications and fill in gaps in your background knowledge. Focus on learning the core language skills of HTML, CSS, Java, MySQL, and JavaScript. Learning about DOM Manipulation and Object-Oriented Programming in your courses will help you as well. Be ready to then continue learning as you progress through your career.

Becoming a full-stack developer can be an exciting career for many professionals. Focus on these five fundamentals if you want to get started building your resume to transition into the field.