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Thursday, August 24, 2017

A Comprehensive Guide To Improving Your Programming Skills In Schools Or Colleges

A Comprehensive Guide To Improving Your Programming Skills In Schools Or Colleges

Guest post by Justin Goh (Share your insight with 56,000+ Malaysian students)

Learning the different ways of programming a computer is one of the most versatile skills available in the market today. This skill is more than capable of making you a standout among the crowd with attractive rewards that come in the form of a bright career and a hefty paycheck.

In this article, we will delve deep into the different techniques that you should implement to hone your programming skills for good. So pay attention as closely as possible.

Step 1: Analyze the given problem as closely as possible

The first step is the simplest of the lot. Just read the problem as closely as possible. Ensure that you know and understand the underlying meaning of the problem well.

Remember, the final result of your program will be based entirely on this. So never ignore this step in any way whatsoever.

Step 2: Think of the different ways through which you might be able to solve the problem

The key is to find the best solution to solve the problem in the best possible manner. Can you?

Step 3: Begin an organized approach

An organized approach can definitely benefit you a lot in structuring the format of your program. Here’s how you can do it:
  • Note down the goals separately on a piece of paper.
  • Note down the user base that it’s possible going to target. 
  • Write down the “givens” on the very same paper for an easy reference.
A simple, methodical approach like that can go a long way indeed.

Step 4: Write a detailed implementation plan

If the problem isn’t too complex, a short and simple flowchart should be enough for this purpose of yours. The below flowchart is a simple example for your reference:
Simple Flow Chart Example

If it seems too complex to you, you need to break the job into modules for more effective completion. Soon afterward, you need to think of three things in particular, and these are:
  • The task that each module MUST perform.
  • The ways through which data gets transferred between modules.
  • The ways through which data will be used inside each module, in particular.
Planning and gathering data may seem pretty tedious at the start of your project but do realize that debugging a program after completion is more tedious than all of these activities. So make your decision wisely.

Step 5: Use comment lines for explanations

If you want to explain your program to a non-technical person who seemingly has no prior idea of the subject matter, comment lines can come in handy for that purpose of yours. Here’s an example (you will see the comment lines written in faded italics):
Programming Comment Code Example

You, yourself, will also be benefited as a result of this.

That’s because comments are capable of answering the questions of “why” more often than “what.” So in case you have to get back to the code again in the nearly foreseeable future, the presence of comments in the code would help you understand the entire program in a jiffy. If this is not a benefit, what is?

Step 6: Use a consistent naming protocol for naming variables

Adopting a consistent naming protocol in your program will help you keep track of each and every variable that you have used in the program and will also tell you the purpose of each of them in precise detail.

Say, for example; the program is based on simple addition.

Instead of just writing x = a + b, write sum = a + b.

The sum variable can easily point out the fact that this is where the summation of the numbers are stored as the final result.

Note: Although I have used a simple program for your reference, do realize that this practice will come in as a blessing as soon as the programs get more complex over time.

Step 7: Indent your code properly for a visually elegant look

I am asking you to do this not because it looks visually appealing from the point of the reader who’s going through your code at a particular moment in time.

I am asking you to do this because it makes it easier to read and understand. For more information of code indentation, refer to this article, in particular.

Lastly, I would like to tell you to keep on practicing coding to improve your skill in the long run. Remember, programming’s NOT a stagnant discipline in any way whatsoever. There is always something new to learn and something old to re-learn. The internet can help you a lot for this purpose of yours.

So this is where I will sign off for the time being. Hope the tips mentioned above come in handy for your programming endeavors. Good luck!

Justin Goh Profile Picture
Justin Goh is a former teacher and prolific writer, penning blogs to help the parents, students and the educators alike. Regularly contributing articles for MyPrivateTutor Malaysia, he prefers to write on varying aspects of education ranging from learning strategies and preparation tips to the ways to reach out to the students better.
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