How Do You Spot A Beginner Programmer?

How do you spot a beginner programmer? Can you tell that someone’s a beginner programmer by what they say and the questions they ask about programming? Or can you know them from the mistakes they make while writing code?

Programming is like a bottomless pit that is incredibly fun to explore. The deeper you get into it, the more fun you are going to have. For someone who has only just started programming, it might not seem all that glamorous, but as time passes and you learn more and more, you will realize that there is almost nothing that you can’t achieve with the right programming.

The future is looking increasingly bright for programmers, with many employers now requiring applicants to know a bit of programming. Even financial accountants are now expected to know a thing or two about programming, and this could give you a serious leg-up in your career. But, as a beginner programmer, your progress can be hindered due to a myriad of different reasons.

In fact, seasoned veterans will tell you that many programmers make some basic mistakes that repeat over and over again. That’s not to make anyone feel bad, but it’s important that you know about them so that you can steer clear of them. If you continue to make these mistakes again and again, you are only going to hinder your progress and performance.

Many professional programmers make such mistakes over and over again, and that’s how they learn. But, instead of repeating the same mistakes on your own, what if you learn from the experiences of others? There’s no reason for you to feel bad if you have made any of these mistakes; it’s only going to help you improve your programming skills. More importantly, the mistakes given below are not in any particular order of severity. So, without further ado, here are 20 mistakes that beginner programmers make.

How Do You Spot A Beginner Programmer?

Below are 20 mistakes that will enable you to spot a beginner programmer:

  1. Writing the Code Without a Plan

One of the most important things that you need to understand is that great things require a considerable amount of planning and deliberation. You simply cannot create high-quality content unless you have proper direction and a detailed plan. There are several things that you need to integrate in the process:

  • Think
  • Research
  • Plan
  • Write
  • Validate
  • Modify

These are some basic steps that you need to add to the planning step. It’s important that you follow this series of steps so that you know exactly what you have to write.

  1. Planning Over the Top

Planning can get infectious, and discussing the outcome of your code can hinder you from writing it as well. Too much planning can actually prevent you from being able to write well, because you will be too scared of making a mistake. There’s no such thing as a perfect plan, and you need to understand that things are likely to change in the future. The simple fact of the matter is that your plans are going to change dramatically once you start coding, so it’s best to get used to it.

  1. Not Knowing the Importance of Quality

Readability is one of the key aspects of coding, and if there’s only one thing that you can focus on, it should be that. Unclear code cannot be used again; it’s just garbage. You need to be very particular about even the small things, such as capitalization and indentation while writing code. Think as if a violent psychopath will be responsible for maintaining the code, and that person knows exactly where you reside. Avoid using poorly written shortcuts or workarounds.

  1. Opting for the First Solution

Probably the biggest sign of a beginner programmer is that they tend to pick the first solution that they come across, and run with it. An expert will look for potential failures and plan accordingly while identifying the complexities of the solution they have picked. Simply running with the first solution that comes to mind is not a wise move.

  1. Not Knowing When to Quit

If you realize that the first approach you have selected isn’t the right one, let it go. Too often, beginner programmers tend to stick with the same thing even when they know that it’s not worth it. Not knowing when to quit and start again is a common mistake that many programmers make. Don’t be like that!

  1. Not Using Google

Learning the art of researching is very important. Instead of coming up with solutions all the time on your own, you should consider using Google to your advantage. It’s a fantastic resource available to you through which you can easily find the solution to, and resolve many problems. Learn to use Google to your advantage, and many of your problems will just dissipate.

  1. Avoiding the Use of Encapsulation

Using the concept of encapsulation is of the utmost importance. If you don’t, it’s going to cause more difficulty for you to maintain your systems. A feature should only be placed in the particular code which handles it. Before you add more responsibilities to a method, check to see if it’s the right thing to do.

  1. Plan for Uncertainty

Many people often think of things beyond the code that they are writing. How will this be implemented? What solutions can you add? A lot of questions are likely to pop into your head, but you need to be careful. You need to plan for uncertainty and think about things that might happen in the future.

  1. Failing to Use the Right Data Structures

A common mistake that many beginner programmers make is that they put too much emphasis on algorithms. Identifying the right ones is great and all, but there’s no need to memorize them if you want to become good at programming. But, what you need to do is to memorize the weaknesses and the strengths of the different data structures so that you can employ them in your programming language. Using the wrong data structures can cause lots of troubles for you and is a strong indicator that you are a rookie.

  1. Ruining the Quality of Existing Code

If you are given a set of code that you need to improve, and you end up making it worse than it is, then that’s a sign of a beginner programmer. Imagine if you were given access to a messy room, and were then asked to make a few additions to the room. You received a few items that you were to keep in this room, and just chucked them about. This is a wrong practice, and will really affect your growth as a programmer. Make use of configuration files and make sure that you arrange the code as neatly as possible.

  1. Commenting the Obvious

You need to avoid writing comments when you know that the problem is obvious. Let the other person understand what you are going to say, and make sure that you avoid writing too obvious statements which are going to affect your ability to look at things and make observations. Simply using the better names for arguments and functions usually makes different kinds of comments absolutely unnecessary.

  1. Failing to Define Tests

If you think of yourself as an experienced programmer, and this thinking eventually leads you to write code without writing the appropriate tests for it, you are doing it wrong. Writing tests in code is essential, and there is absolutely nothing wrong in manually testing different aspects of your code again and again. Remember, you are a human being, so you are also likely to make mistakes. If you feel that there are certain aspects of your code that need attention or may need to undergo testing, it’s best to add that in.

  1. Making Positive Assumptions

Most beginner programmers assume that if things are working properly, it might be because they are right, right? Well, no. Just because things are working properly and because your code is running smoothly does not mean that you have written it properly. You need to check and review your code again and again, and if possible, talk to an experienced professional who can look over your code and identify mistakes. You have to test for edge-cases as well. The solution is pretty simple, though it requires a careful approach.

  1. Not Questioning Your Code

Most beginner programmers don’t know just how important it is to question their code again and again. They don’t add in tests, they don’t run different kinds of experiments, and they don’t want to make sure that the code runs smoothly. Unless you are an experienced, super-level coder who likes to ride solo, you are definitely going to find some sort of stupidity in your code from time to time. If you find any “bad elements” in your code, you should fix them as quickly as possible.

  1. Obsessing About Perfection

You might have heard and read quite a bit about the best practices in the world of coding. However, an experienced programmer knows that best practices can actually be harmful if you obsess too much about them. Many of the “best practices” that were known before are now labeled as “bad practices,” so you need to understand that this is a changing term.

  1. Focusing Too Much on Performance

Performance plays an incredibly important role, but you need to know that obsessing too much about it is a serious problem. If you are constantly poring over every minute detail to figure out how you can get the best performance out of your code, you are making a beginner programming mistake. Remember, the code is going to work if you have written it properly. There might be problems from time to time, so you can resolve them. However, if you obsess too much about performance, you are going to miss out on a lot of other things.

  1. Not Emphasizing the End-User Experience

The end-user experience should be as smooth as possible, and that should be your ultimate goal. If you do not target and improve the end-user experience to the best of your capabilities, you are making a mistake. It’s highly recommended that you put yourself in the shoes of the end-user and then come up with a solution, because that’s what works!

  1. Not Picking the Right Tools

The right tools for the right job can make all the difference in the world. The same goes for programming as well; if you do not select the right tools for a particular job, you are going to face a lot of difficulty. Relying on the popularity of a particular tool is simply not the answer; it should be tailored for the task that you want to use it for. Now, a problem that arises frequently is that most people just don’t know which tool is best for a particular job. In that scenario, it’s best to research your options and experiment. Do not be hesitant to use new tools!

  1. Code Problems = Data Problems

It’s still difficult for many programmers to get their heads around the fact that coding problems can actually cause data problems. Most programs usually manage some form of data, so it’s important that your code is well-written so that it doesn’t lead to such issues. If you fail to understand that code problems can lead to data problems, it’s a serious issue.

  1. The Wrong Attitude

There are going to be times where your code is likely to receive a scathing review. That’s fair, but if you become indignant and despondent toward the writing, you are making a mistake. Remember, it’s always better to have a positive attitude toward your code reviews, as that’s going to help you improve. If you are constantly defensive and not open to constructive criticism, you are going to face serious problems in your life and it’s also going to hinder your progress and development as a programmer.

All in all, it’s important for you to avoid making these mistakes, because they are going to set you back considerably. Remember, at the end of the day, coding is all about solving a problem in a unique and interesting way, so you have to be intelligent about it. Avoid these mistakes, and your coding career will blossom!

About David

Hey there, I'm David. I recently joined the SH team and love writing about all things TECH! When I'm not writing, you can find me enjoying the great outdoors with my golden retriever Lucy or enjoying a pint at my local Irish pub.

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