Getting into the world of development is potentially lucrative and fulfilling career. However, for every person that jumps into it, there are others who are intimidated and shy away. In my last article, I wrote about why people are afraid of getting into a programming career, why people think coding is difficult and how schools exacerbate the situation.
Like with any skill, coding is one that can be learned with time and practice. There are also other seemingly unrelated skills that can increase the speed at which you learn, and help you become a much better coder. So, if you’re looking to get into a career as a coder, or want to improve your development skills, here are some skills you should work on.
The ability to organize your thoughts in a structured manner, to see the world in patterns. To think like a computer. Remember, computers have no emotions, no creativity and don’t interpret what you tell them in their own way. They do exactly as they are told, in the order they are told. So, to effectively and efficiently give instructions to a computer, you need to think in a logical manner.
Logical thinking will also help you to streamline your code, which will make it neater and more concise, and cause it to run faster.
The majority of what you do as a coder, is problem solve. By this I don’t just mean trying to find and fix bugs in your code, although yes, you’re probably going to spend a lot of time doing that. What I actually mean is every feature or function you want to build into an app is a problem that needs to be solved.
Let’s just say you need to build an app that does ABC. You’ll need to think of the best possible way to accomplish this. You’ll need to take into account the resources you have and the platform your app will run on. Very often something will go wrong with the solution you are working on, or you’ll hit a brick wall. It’s all part of the process. You’ll need to step back, assess the situation and come up with a new solution.
Most people think that logic and creativity are opposites, and that no one can be both logical and creative. Coders prove that theory wrong. While computers need to be given instructions is a logical manner, the process that comes before that is a creative one. Trying to find the best solution to a problem you’re having, with the resources you have, requires a lot of creativity.
While computers are completely logical, the people that are going to use your app are not. You need to design your app with them in mind. User experience design is something that also requires creativity.
Every development project, whether you’re working on your own or in a team, is a complex project with multiple moving parts. Especially in larger projects with dozens of files, it’s imperative to manage your time and resources carefully to make sure the project gets to completion in the most efficient way possible and that everything that needs to get done, is getting done. You need to allocate budgets and deadlines and stick to them. At any given point you need to know the situation with every part of the project.
This is probably the most important skill of all. Patience to a coder applies on multiple levels. Firstly, understand that building an app, game or website, takes time. Every piece of it needs to be built one line at a time. There are plenty of engines and frameworks out there that cut down development times and make your life a lot easier, but it still takes time.
Secondly, remember that things are not going to work as expected, or there’s going to be an error in your code that you just can’t seem to find. It’s important to resist the urge to pick up your pc and hurl it at the nearest wall.
Thirdly, if your clients are a bit fussy, there might be a bit of back and forth. It might get frustrating at times. The best advice is to just stick to it and push through.
To some degree, everyone has at least one of these skills, meaning everyone has the makings of a great coder in them. Don’t be intimidated by incorrect ideas of how difficult coding is. Once you get into it, you’ll realize it’s surprisingly fun. Who knows, maybe the next big app could come from you!