If you want to become an experienced programmer there is only one thing you need to always keep in mind: Self Improvement!

 If you’re a fellow programmer, or if you’re just starting now, I’ll make sure this is the best motivational and informative article I can offer you. Programming can be difficult, but it can also be really helpful. Nowadays, technology is one of the most important fields in every business. As the world becomes more and more connected to digital environments, in order to evolve, your success as a programmer depends on your ability to learn and adapt. Any developer knows that he or she should always look for ways to improve his programming skills.

I know the odds might seem that they are against you but don’t give up right now! Here are five tips that will definitely help you become a better programmer:

  1. Find Your Learning Method

We all learn differently. Some of us prefer a formal course, others get along fine with just a book, while some even adopt the old tutorial video strategy. Fortunately, there are plenty of free or low-cost learning resources a quick search away. You don’t have to waste your time on methods that don’t suit you, as you can choose several online courses that could work just fine for you. We’ll offer you a list of the most popular sites for online courses. If you want to learn more about these and other ones available, check out OCR’s list of the best online programming courses.

  • Code School
  • Udacity
  • Safari Books Online
  • Lynda.com
  • Pluralsight

If you’re not a fan of passive learning, whether it be video or text-based, here’s another option that might work out for you – coding competitions. Think of it as a videogame – you don’t have to win it, but it challenges you enough to put your skills against others in a fast-paced environment. As a result, you can learn a few new tricks, and if you actually do win, there’s often a cash prize. Several websites such as Project Euler, TopCoder, and Coderbyte have those competitions that can really challenge you!

Whichever educational method you select, make sure you leave your comfort zone! You need to discover the unknown and explore new forms that might be able to improve your personal skills.

  1. Simplify Your Code

If you’re having trouble writing and maintaining code, examining how an experienced programmer handles a similar task is a good way to pick up some pointers. For starters:

  • Remove obvious copy-and-paste code. If you start seeing similar codes on different spots, they are likely functions or methods in a class.
  • Try dividing larger chunks of code into smaller ones, removing the excess code that isn’t really helpful. A block with a meaningful name is always easier to follow and to understand.
  • It’s important you have an organized project. You can reach that by making your variable names a bit more complex and descriptive (some refactoring tools allow you to do that).
  • Start with simpler functions. After you understand them, aim to have at least one line of comment at the top of every function, class, and method.
  1. Learn a Different Programming Language

Every week, find some time to leave your comfort zone. You can try learning a new coding language, understand a new technology or even read about some influential personalities – it’s extremely important to keep your curiosity and love for this profession, as high as you can. For example, if you already know object-oriented languages, try a functional one. For C#, the obvious functional language is F#. Likewise, if you’re more into mobile or web development, why don’t you scribble with some desktop apps? If ASP.NET MVC or Xamarin are your thing, C# might be your easier entry into desktop apps.

Try to find sources of new information to regularly tap into for inspiration! To learn a new programming language is to convert an existing utility or a small program in order to reach the same, or more efficient results. You can’t imagine the great things you can find out!

Practice and challenge yourself. Successful people never stop, so try to always have something to work on. A good way to do that is to find an open-source project to contribute to regularly. For example, build web apps for charity, or tackle that silly app idea your buddy keeps pitching to you.

  1. Learn from others

A formal mentor can be a great asset but it’s not required. One of the fastest ways to improve your skillset is to leverage the knowledge and experience of people who entered the field before you and take advantage of them. Try to find sources like your team lead, members of your local user group, or Stack Overflow. Feel free to show your code and ask for feedback! And never let the fear of criticism or feeling like you’re bothering people take over you. Personal tip – if you’ve been stuck on a problem for more than 15 minutes, ask for help! Usually, the act of describing your problem in detail puts you on the right path towards the solution.

  1. Step-Through Your Code in a Debugger

You’ll have a better understanding of what’s going on, identify weak areas in your thinking, and learn what to do (or not do) the next time you build a similar piece of software. Always look under the hood. The most famous programmers rely heavily on frameworks such as Spring, Rails, or Angular to get the job done. You could try to check out their source code and study it. Feel free to explore! While these frameworks promote productivity, they serve as examples and inspiration that you can apply to your own solutions.

Final Considerations

There are no secrets to reach mad programming skills or to become a better programmer. It’s all up to you and your ambition! I’m not gonna lie to you, it takes patience, a lot of practice, and perseverance (and a silent keyboard unless you want to go mad!) To get you inspired you could always try to browse Hacker News daily or weekly and subscribe to newsletters like the Changelog Weekly to learn more and more about the programming world and keep up with the latest news!

Lastly, stay curious and always have fun doing it The reward is in enjoying each stop along the way.

 

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