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Whether you’re just starting out your web development career or have been doing it for a while now, we should all want to be the best web developer that we can be. Being a better developer means writing better code, having less bugs to deal with, and more than likely getting paid more money for our work. Who doesn’t want to make more money? I surely can’t think of anyone. Money aside, being a better web developer gives you a sense of pride and accomplishment in the work you do.
For some, writing code is just a skill, but for those who are really passionate about coding, it an entire art form. No matter your reasons, we’re going to share with you three easy tips that you can use right now that will help you become a better web developer.
Stop Copy and Pasting Code!
This has to be the biggest thing many web developers are guilty of. It isn’t just the beginner and noob developers either, but even seasoned developers fall victim to this practice. You wonder how to do something, and can’t seem to figure it out, so you Google the problem, find someone else’s solution, then just copy and paste it into your own code, making modifications as necessary. Shame on you, just shame on you…
If we’re going to be completely honest here though, every developer has done this at one time or another. Sometimes you just can’t seem to figure something out, or perhaps you’re pressed for time and just need something to work right now. It’s completely understandable, but probably something you should reconsider doing.
Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes it’s actually good. After-all, we’re programmers, and reusing code is what we do. However the problem comes in from the fact that most of the time, you’re not actually learning anything this way. You CAN learn from it, but for many developers, they do this simply looking for a quick fix. Copy and pasting someone else’s code into your project that you may not fully understand can, and probably will, lead to bugs in your code. Debugging this code will be very hard for you to do later on since you don’t know why it’s throwing an error. Think twice before you copy and paste.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions
Remember that feeling in school when the teacher asks if anyone has any questions about something before they move on, but no one raises their hand out of fear of looking stupid? Yeah I’m sure you do. What ends up happening? The teacher moves on, but then when test time comes, a lot of the class gets their answers wrong. Why? They were afraid to ask questions.
I’m sorry for making you guys relive the horrors of school life, but I think it illustrates the point pretty well. By not asking questions, you’re not going to know, and by not knowing, you’re doomed to fail. Fortunately we have the internet, and asking questions on it is super easy. There is no pressure in looking stupid, because you don’t have to put a face or name behind a question. There are literally millions of forums out there that just require a username and a password to sign up and start posting.
Even if anonymity isn’t a factor, there is nothing wrong in admitting you don’t know something and asking for help. If you’re having an issue with some code or just don’t seem to be able to grasp a programming concept, there are tons of people online and even offline willing to offer help to you for free. This doesn’t warrant being lazy though. Don’t just ask for the sake of asking. No one is going to hold your hand through every step. There is a pretty good chance you’re not the only one that has ever had that question either. It’s likely already been answered somewhere. If you don’t know something, Google is your friend.
Understand the Why, When, and Hows
This is hands down the most useful tip you need to remember. It doesn’t just apply to programming either, but is useful in all facets of life. What everyone needs to know is the importance of fully understanding how something works, why it works that way, and when to use it. When it comes to programming, the same applies.
If you don’t understand why you’re doing something, how it works, or when you should use it, then you’re pretty much setting yourself up for a world of hurt later on. This actually closely ties into the first tip we talked about with copy and pasting. When you copy and paste code that you don’t’ know how it works, you’re going to get bugs, security flaws, and headaches sooner or later.
With any skill, the only way to grow and become more advanced is having a firm grasp of the basics. Anything “advanced” is just a creative application of basic principles, which build upon each other. If for example you don’t have a good understanding of functions, then there is a pretty good chance you’re going to have a hard time working with objects and methods when it’s time to use them.
When you take the time to learn how something works, why it works the way it does and when to use it, your code will be much more robust, easier to debug, as well as quicker to write. You’ll be able to quickly solve problems and figure out creative new ways to achieve your desired effect. Knowledge is power after-all.
These are certainly not the only things you can do to become a better web developer, but they are three great ways to get you moving forward. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned developer, these three things can have a great impact on you as you progress in your web development adventures.
So what tips do you have that we left out? Share them in the comments and let us know!