[thelist] programming info

Ian Anderson ian at zstudio.co.uk
Fri Apr 21 10:16:39 CDT 2006

Andrew Kamm wrote:
> The other things that helped me were repetition (of course), and when
> learning something new, intentionally trying to remember proper syntax
> rather than constantly relying on a reference. If you're not sure about
> something, try to code it, then go back to see if you did it right.

I do that too, but more for adding a little spice to the day than for 
any worthy reason!

Guessing method and property names is a good way of passing the time 
(often without achieving much, of course...)

Another fun game is to see how many lines you can write without 
executing them, and have them work first time...

I think I could score about 4 - possibly less...

I used to compare coding with being slapped in the face repeatedly with 
a large, wet fish.

Do a bit - test - SLAP!

Bugger. Fix bug.

Test - SLAP!

Sod it. Fix bug.


Do a bit - test - SLAP!

It's like a drug - the high you get from the thing finally working is 
just awesome. Does anyone else do a little booty dance at this point?

Turning up the signal a little, I think a very important thing to learn 
is consistency and code reuse.

Consistency - always name your recordsets, database fields, variable and 
function names according to a strict, repeatable, predictable pattern. 
This way you spend more time writing code and less time scrolling 
through files trying to see what something is called, because you can 
predict accurately what it's called without having to look.

If your language is case-sensitive, always maintain consistent 
conventions for case - likeThisPerhaps() Whatever the convention you 
choose is, stick to it like gum on a carpet.

Always do things the same way on every page. Use existing, tested code 
where possible.

Always think, how can I reuse this code? Make it a function. How is it 
specific to the current situation? Remove those bits to parameters that 
are passed into the function.

The aim for us amateur coders should be to build up libraries of "black 
box" functions that take consistent input and produce a consistent 
output. Then the next time you need the same thing again, you just pop 
the function into an include file and call the function from the 
relevant place.

We're never going to be proper object oriented programmers, but we can 
still work for modularity and code reuse.

This is one reason why I wrote my web application, Snippetz.net (see 
sig). Because I want to have access to such snippets from any machine 
I'm using - I use three machines on a regular basis not counting 
machines on client sites - I wanted a private, web based code 
repository.  Private because I don't want to expose my less polished 
code to public scrutiny, and because some of it is the intellectual 
property of my clients.

Having reached a certain (in)competence in the languages I work with, 
the face-slapping fish is not such a large feature of the experience any 
more. One of the nicest things about the last few years has been the 
accelerated learning curve when I have tackled new languages. It took me 
a couple of years to become in any way proficient in ASP VBScript; but 
learning PHP to the point where I could be dangerous took just a week, 
because the design patterns you learn for solving particular problems 
don't change, just the way you express yourself.

Of course, there are new gotchas to learn but that's what makes learning 
new stuff fun.

Coding is lovely, especially as an antidote to stress.

zStudio - Web development and accessibility
- http://zStudio.co.uk
Snippetz.net - Your personal, private code library
- http://snippetz.net

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