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Five things to look for while starting a coding career

(Image credit: Image Credit: Christina Morillo / Pexels)

Code is the language of the modern world. Whether it’s the app that brings emails to a mobile or the car that knows how many miles to go until refuelling. Any smart device needs code instructions to tell it how to operate and communicate with the outside world. As a result of this, as a profession is gaining momentum, and an increasing number of professionals from diverse backgrounds are now breaking into the tech ecosystem.

For years, engineers in Silicon Valley working at cutting-edge tech companies have routinely made six-figure salaries. There’s also the accessibility to a plethora of coding schools which are helping professionals change their careers paths and become software developers. A variety of new and innovative models are emerging, pioneered by companies like Lambda School from the United States. Even so, one in two UK-based digital business have been so frustrated by the struggle to recruit skilled programmers. There is simply an awful lot to learn and, for businesses not accustomed to the nuances of the area, navigation to identify the right person, skills and background can be painstaking.

At the same time, it can be quite overwhelming for new software developers to understand what to focus on while learning this new skill. We’ve gathered an incredible amount of data and insight from over 17,000 code reviews to help those at the start of their career.

Code quality

Code quality is defined in a few ways. It could talk about how well the code conforms to the functional specifications and the requirements of a given project or the structural quality, relating to the maintainability and robustness of the code.

Pro-tip - Code quality is the first thing to check while writing good code. This parameter is covered while learning how to code and developers usually have a good idea what a good code looks like, though there are some fundamental principles to be adhered to.

Extensibility

An extensible software is one which is affected minimally if a new functionality is added. In an extensible software system, it is quite easy to add new features to an existing codebase, promoting the reuse of existing functionality.

Pro-tip - As a new developer, it might be a little difficult to write extensible systems, but this skill can be acquired by enough practice. When learning how to code, junior developers usually work on simpler, smaller applications. Once they start gaining more experience and work with larger teams, they get to work on more complex systems and understand how to write extensible code that can be improved on by your teammates.

Readability

Readability is not just the legibility of the code but the ease with which other developers can read and understand the code that is written. This involves writing good function and variable names, writing concise functions, keeping separation of concerns, among other things.

Pro-tip - Junior developers can write decent code which is readable by other developers. It is important though to keep writing maintainable and readable code when working on more complex applications and the deadlines start creeping up.

Design patterns

In software engineering, there are highly researched, common practices of solving complex problems, which have become a loosely accepted standard in the industry. They have been universally identified by more experienced developers across the world as a standard way of doing things. Why reinvent the wheel every time when there might be already existing solutions out there?

Pro-tip - A junior developer might be eager to show coding skills to find more innovative solutions to common problems. More often than not, this results in complex and inefficient solutions which might not be understood by other programmers. Stick with standard design patterns, especially for common problems - Stackoverflow is your best friend.

Test Coverage

How much code is covered by unit tests and functional tests? How many end to end tests have you written? That’s what test coverage tries to uncover.

Pro-tip - Most of the junior developers tend to ignore this crucial parameter. When they start working on complex applications, stacking functionality on top of existing code, they might end up in a situation where they encounter unexpected bugs and spend half a day to figure out what part of the code causes it. Start writing as many tests as possible and save the frustration six months down the line.

The first priority for junior developers is to improve their test coverage and not ignore it. It is certainly considered as one of the most important parameters by the senior developers. They also need to focus more on the Design Patterns, and should invest time on this aspect.

Of course, these are just some of the skills and techniques to look for. Coding is a never-ending discovery and you never know where it might take you - that’s another reason it’s so exciting.

Gaurang Torvekar, Co-founder and CEO, Indorse