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The original article was posted by Michael Veksler on Quora

A very well known fact is that code is written once, but it is read many times. This means that a good developer, in any language, writes understandable code. Writing understandable code is not always easy, and takes practice. The difficult part, is that you read what you have just written and it makes perfect sense to you, but a year later you curse the idiot who wrote that code, without realizing it was you.

The best way to learn how to write readable code, is to collaborate with others. Other people will spot badly written code, faster than the author. There are plenty of open source projects, which you can start working on and learn from more experienced programmers.

Readability is a tricky thing, and involves several aspects:

  1. Never surprise the reader of your code, even if it will be you a year from now. For example, don’t call a function max() when sometimes it returns the minimum().
  2. Be consistent, and use the same conventions throughout your code. Not only the same naming conventions, and the same indentation, but also the same semantics. If, for example, most of your functions return a negative value for failure and a positive for success, then avoid writing functions that return false on failure.
  3. Write short functions, so that they fit your screen. I hate strict rules, since there are always exceptions, but from my experience you can almost always write functions short enough to fit your screen. Throughout my carrier I had only a few cases when writing short function was either impossible, or resulted in much worse code.
  4. Use descriptive names, unless this is one of those standard names, such as i or it in a loop. Don’t make the name too long, on one hand, but don’t make it cryptic on the other.
  5. Define function names by what they do, not by what they are used for or how they are implemented. If you name functions by what they do, then code will be much more readable, and much more reusable.
  6. Avoid global state as much as you can. Global variables, and sometimes attributes in an object, are difficult to reason about. It is difficult to understand why such global state changes, when it does, and requires a lot of debugging.
  7. As Donald Knuth wrote in one of his papers: “Early optimization is the root of all evil”. Meaning, write for readability first, optimize later.
  8. The opposite of the previous rule: if you have an alternative which has similar readability, but lower complexity, use it. Also, if you have a polynomial alternative to your exponential algorithm (when N > 10), you should use that.

Use standard library whenever it makes your code shorter; don’t implement everything yourself. External libraries are more problematic, and are both good and bad. With external libraries, such as boost, you can save a lot of work. You should really learn boost, with the added benefit that the c++ standard gets more and more form boost. The negative with boost is that it changes over time, and code that works today may break tomorrow. Also, if you try to combine a third-party library, which uses a specific version of boost, it may break with your current version of boost. This does not happen often, but it may.

Don’t blindly use C++ standard library without understanding what it does - learn it. You look at std::vector::push_back() documentation at it tells you that its complexity is O(1), amortized. What does that mean? How does it work? What are benefits and what are the costs? Same with std::map, and with std::unordered_map. Knowing the difference between these two maps, you’d know when to use each one of them.

Never call new or delete directly, use std::make_unique and [cost c++]std::make_shared[/code] instead. Try to implement usique_ptr, shared_ptr, weak_ptr yourself, in order to understand what they actually do. People do dumb things with these types, since they don’t understand what these pointers are.

Every time you look at a new class or function, in boost or in std, ask yourself “why is it done this way and not another?”. It will help you understand trade-offs in software development, and will help you use the right tool for your job. Don’t be afraid to peek into the source of boost and the std, and try to understand how it works. It will not be easy, at first, but you will learn a lot.

Know what complexity is, and how to calculate it. Avoid exponential and cubic complexity, unless you know your N is very low, and will always stay low.

Learn data-structures and algorithms, and know them. Many people think that it is simply a wasted time, since all data-structures are implemented in standard libraries, but this is not as simple as that. By understanding data-structures, you’d find it easier to pick the right library. Also, believe it or now, after 25 years since I learned data-structures, I still use this knowledge. Half a year ago I had to implemented a hash table, since I needed fast serialization capability which the available libraries did not provide. Now I am writing some sort of interval-btree, since using std::map, for the same purpose, turned up to be very very slow, and the performance bottleneck of my code.

Notice that you can’t just find interval-btree on Wikipedia, or stack-overflow. The closest thing you can find is Interval tree, but it has some performance drawbacks. So how can you implement an interval-btree, unless you know what a btree is and what an interval-tree is? I strongly suggest, again, that you learn and remember data-structures.

These are the most important things, which will make you a better programmer. The other things will follow.

For many people, one of the most exciting and challenging career choices is computer programming. There are several ways that people can enter the computer programming profession; however, the most popular method has traditionally been the educational route through an educational institution of higher learning such as a college or technical school.

Even though many people think of computer programmers as individuals with a technical background, some programmers enter the computer programming profession without a structured technical background. In addition, after further investigation several interesting facts are uncovered when a profile of the best computer programmers is analyzed.

When observing how the top programmers in the profession work, there are four characteristics that tend to separate the top programmers from the average programmers. These four characteristics are:

1.Creativity.
2.Attention To Detail.
3.Learns New Things Quickly.
4.Works Well With Others.

Creativity.

Being a top computer programmer requires a combination of several unique qualities. One of these qualities is creativity. In its very essence, computer programming is about creating programs to accomplish specific tasks in the most efficient manner. The ability to develop computer code to accomplish tasks takes a certain level of creativity. The top computer programmers tend to have a great deal of creativity, and they have the desire to try things in a variety of ways to produce the best results for a particular situation.

Attention To Detail.

While creativity is important for top programmers an almost opposite quality is needed to produce great computer programs on a consistent basis, this quality is attention to detail. The very nature of computer programming requires the need to enter thousands of lines of computer programming code. What separates many top programmers from average programmers is the ability to enter these lines of code with a minimum amount of errors and just as importantly test the code to catch any unseen errors. Top computer programmers have the necessary attention to detail to successfully create and enter the necessary computer code project after project.

Learns New Things Quickly.

The technology field is constantly changing. Almost daily new technology innovations are being developed that require computer programmers to learn new technology or enhancements to current technology on a regular basis. The top computer programmers are able to learn new technology or enhancements quickly, and then they are able to apply what has been learned to their current and future programming projects in a seamless manner.

Works Well With Others.

There are several differences between top computer programmers and other programmers. However, one of the biggest differences is the ability to work well with others. By its very nature, computer programming requires programmers to spend a lot of time alone developing computer code, but the top computer programmers are able to excel at this aspect of computer programming along with being able to work well with other people.

Regarding computer programmers, the top programmers approach and handle their jobs differently than other programmers, and these differences set them apart from the other programmers. For any average programmers who have the desire to excel as a computer programmer, they must understand and embrace the characteristics of top programmers.

 

Related:

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What are a few unique pieces of career advice that nobody ever mentions?

In this tutorial I am going to give you a gentle introduction to network programming in Python. If you are new to programming or new to Python then that may seem like a daunting thought. But read on and you will be pleasantly surprised how easy it is.

Like most modern programming languages, Python was designed for networking from the very beginning, and thanks to that, a lot of the networking tasks you would want to accomplish with the language are made a whole lot easier.

Network communication is a large topic, but if it is something that interests you then read on because in this tutorial I will show you how to download a web page. I will show you how easy Python makes tasks like this.

Take a look at the following code:

import urllib
	
con = urllib.urlopen("http://hartmannsoftware.com")
page = con.read()
con.close()
print page

Globalization
Globalization is the fundamental force changing IT service delivery and business's competitive activities in almost every vertical market — and thus economies — in some way, shape or form. One might say that globalization is not a new trend and has been commonplace for quite some time now. Yes, but with the changing economic environment globalizations has special implications for the IT outsourcing industry. With developed countries like the U.S. keeping a strict eye on generating local jobs, IT outsourcing especially in Asian countries such as India and China is expected to see globalization brining in big shifts in business strategy

Potential Impact of Globalization

·         Increase in near shoring in addition to outsourcing. Near shoring essentially refers to existing IT companies setting up development/delivery centers in Nordic and South American regions in order to offer same time zone services and also bypass the laws governing local hiring

·         A truly global delivery model. Service delivery models will have to become more efficient and flexible and work well even if service teams spread across continents

This will mean that large IT outsourcing companies such as TCS will have to expand their presence globally from just having sales offices to actual delivery teams shipping out solutions.

 

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the hartmann software group advantage
A successful career as a software developer or other IT professional requires a solid understanding of software development processes, design patterns, enterprise application architectures, web services, security, networking and much more. The progression from novice to expert can be a daunting endeavor; this is especially true when traversing the learning curve without expert guidance. A common experience is that too much time and money is wasted on a career plan or application due to misinformation.

The Hartmann Software Group understands these issues and addresses them and others during any training engagement. Although no IT educational institution can guarantee career or application development success, HSG can get you closer to your goals at a far faster rate than self paced learning and, arguably, than the competition. Here are the reasons why we are so successful at teaching:

  • Learn from the experts.
    1. We have provided software development and other IT related training to many major corporations in Germany since 2002.
    2. Our educators have years of consulting and training experience; moreover, we require each trainer to have cross-discipline expertise i.e. be Java and .NET experts so that you get a broad understanding of how industry wide experts work and think.
  • Discover tips and tricks about IBM programming
  • Get your questions answered by easy to follow, organized IBM experts
  • Get up to speed with vital IBM programming tools
  • Save on travel expenses by learning right from your desk or home office. Enroll in an online instructor led class. Nearly all of our classes are offered in this way.
  • Prepare to hit the ground running for a new job or a new position
  • See the big picture and have the instructor fill in the gaps
  • We teach with sophisticated learning tools and provide excellent supporting course material
  • Books and course material are provided in advance
  • Get a book of your choice from the HSG Store as a gift from us when you register for a class
  • Gain a lot of practical skills in a short amount of time
  • We teach what we know…software
  • We care…
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