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  • Three most critical programming concepts

    - by Todd
    I know this has probably been asked in one form or fashion but I wanted to pose it once again within the context of my situation (and probably others here @ SO). I made a career change to Software Engineering some time ago without having an undergrad or grad degree in CS. I've supplemented my undergrad and grad studies in business with programming courses (VB, Java,C, C#) but never performed academic coursework in the other related disciplines (algorithms, design patterns, discrete math, etc.)...just mostly self-study. I know there are several of you who have either performed interviews and/or made hiring decisions. Given recent trends in demand, what would you say are the three most essential Comp Sci concepts that a developer should have a solid grasp of outside of language syntax? For example, I've seen blog posts of the "Absolute minimum X that every programmer must know" variety...that's what I'm looking for. Again if it's truly a redundancy please feel free to close; my feelings won't be hurt. (Closest ones I could find were http://stackoverflow.com/questions/164048/basic-programming-algorithmic-concepts- which was geared towards a true beginner, and http://stackoverflow.com/questions/648595/essential-areas-of-knowledge-which I didn't feel was concrete enough). Thanks in advance all! T.

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  • Soon to be PhD in Computer Science - Which Path to Follow?

    - by mttr
    I am going to submit my PhD thesis within the next six months. My PhD is on managing the availabiity of large-scale distributed systems, so I have some experience actually building non-trivial systems (+ I have four years experience working as a programmer). I am now trying to figure out what I should do following the PhD. I enjoy research (a quick definition: identify problem, come up with solution, ask interesting questions, find ways to answer them, build system, experiment, contribute some new knowledge and publish). I also like teaching and supervising students. It would seem that a career in academia is the ideal thing to do (can work on non-trivial problems and contribute something of use to some or more people). However, a career in academia has two significant drawbacks. First, it can be difficult to gain access to real systems with real users which then display real problems. This creates the danger that you do work that seems important (to you and maybe to some of your colleagues), but is not really relevant to anything or anyone. Second, the pay is pretty sad. Apparently, you have to sacrifice this for the privilege of doing research. I enjoy programming, but don't just want to hack some web-based system for the rest of my life. That is, working in IT for a bank is not a future I see myself enjoying. I want to work on interesting problms (that's difficult to define clearly): things where you don't know how to start, that take some time to figure out and attack, that require a rigorous approach to demonstrate that the problem has been solved, and problems that need a solution in the real world. Give the experience of people on stackoverflow, what do you think suitable options are and why (or alternatively, what gaps in my thinking does the above reveal)? Is industrial research (aka IBM Research, Microsoft Research) the only alternative avenue to a career in academia? What other areas, companies, occupations, etc. could provide me with stimulating, inspiring work? Which regions, countries am I most likely to find such work? Please share your experience.

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  • Is inconsistent formatting a sign of a sloppy programmer?

    - by dreza
    I understand that everyone has their own style of programming and that you should be able to read other people's styles and accept it for what it is. However, would one be considered a sloppy programmer if one's style of coding was inconsistent across whatever standard they were working against? Some example of inconsistencies might be: Sometimes naming private variables with _ and sometimes not Sometimes having varying indentations within code blocks Not aligning braces up i.e. same column if using start using new line style Spacing not always consistent around operators i.e. p=p+1, p+=1 vs other times p =p+1 or p = p + 1 etc Is this even something that as a programmer I should be concerned with addressing? Or is it such a minor nit picking thing that at the end of the day I should just not worry about it and worry about what the end user sees and whether the code works rather than how it looks while working? Is it sloppy programming or just over obsessive nit picking? EDIT: After some excellent comments I realized I may have left out some information in my question. This question came about after reviewing another colleagues code check-in and noticing some of these things and then realizing that I've seen these kind of in-consistencies in previous check-ins. It then got me thinking about my code and whether I do the same things and noticed that I typically don't etc I'm not suggesting his technique is either bad or good in this question or whether his way of doing things is right or wrong. EDIT: To answer some queries to some more good feed back. The specific instance this review occurred in was using Visual Studio 2010 and programming in c# so I don't think the editor would cause any issues. In fact it should only help I would hope. Sorry if I left that piece of info out and it effects any current answers. I was trying to be a bit more generic in understanding if this would be considered sloppy etc. And to add an even more specific example of a code piece I saw during reading of the check-in: foreach(var block in Blocks) { // .. some other code in here foreach(var movement in movements) { movement.Moved.Zero(); } // the un-formatted brace } Such a minor thing I know, but many small things add up(???), and I did have to double glance at the code at the time to see where everything lined up I guess. Please note this code was formatted appropriately before this check-in. EDIT: After reading some great answers and varying thoughts, the summary I've taken from this was. It's not necessarily a sign of a sloppy programmer however as programmers we have a duty (to ourselves and other programmers) to make the code as readable as possible to assist in further ongoing development. However it can hint at inadequacies which is something that is only possible to review on a case by case (person by person) basis. There are many reasons why this might occur. They should be taken in context and worked through with the person/people involved if reasonable. We have a duty to try and help all programmers become better programmers! In the good old days when development was done using good old notepad (or other simple text editing tool) this occurred much more frequently. However we have the assistance of modern IDE's now so although we shouldn't necessarily become OTT about this, it should still probably be addressed to some degree. We as programmers vary in our standards, styles and approaches to solutions. However it seems that in general we all take PRIDE in our work and as a trait it is something that can stand programmers apart. Making something to the best of our abilities both internal (code) and external (end user result) goes along way to giving us that big fat pat on the back that we may not go looking for but swells our heart with pride. And finally to quote CrazyEddie from his post below. Don't sweat the small stuff

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  • To program in free time as a programmer, is to show that programming is passion. If not, is the programmer good? [closed]

    - by SonofWatson
    Possible Duplicate: I don't program in my spare time. Does that make me a bad developer? A lot of blogs and advice on the web seem to suggest that in order to become a great developer, doing just your day job is not enough. For example, you should contribute to open source projects in your spare time, write smartphone apps, etc. In fact a lot of this advice seems to suggest that if you don't love programming enough to do it all day long then you're probably in the wrong career. That doesn't ring true with me. I enjoy my work, but when I come home from the office I'm not in the mood to jump straight back onto the computer and start coding away until bedtime. I only have a certain number of hours free time each day, and I'd rather spend them on other hobbies, seeing friends or going outside than in front of the computer. I do get a kick out of programming, and do hack around outside of work occasionally. I'm committed to my personal development and spend time reading tech blogs and books as a way to keep learning and becoming better. But that doesn't extend so far as to my wanting to use all my spare time for coding. Does this mean I'm not a 'true' software developer at heart? Is it possible to become a good software developer without doing extra outside your job? I'd be very interested to hear what you think.

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  • How much system and business analysis should a programmer be reasonably expected to do?

    - by Rahul
    In most places I have worked for, there were no formal System or Business Analysts and the programmers were expected to perform both the roles. One had to understand all the subsystems and their interdependencies inside out. Further, one was also supposed to have a thorough knowledge of the business logic of the applications and interact directly with the users to gather requirements, answer their queries etc. In my current job, for ex, I spend about 70% time doing system analysis and only 30% time programming. I consider myself a good programmer but struggle with developing a good understanding of the business rules of a complex application. Often, this creates a handicap because while I can write efficient algorithms and thread-safe code, I lose out to guys who may be average programmers but have a much better understanding of the business processes. So I want to know - How much business and systems knowledge should a programmer have ? - How does one go about getting this knowledge in an immensely complex software system (e.g. trading applications) with several interdependent business processes but poorly documented business rules.

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  • How can I give a basic idea of what I'm working on to a non programmer?

    - by Jesse
    As a relatively new programmer (1 year professionally, many years as an amateur) I've run into many situations that sent me running to Stack Overflow for answers that failed my meagre experiences. Tonight I received the hardest question ever. My wife asked me: What are you working on? The questions is deceptive in it's simplicity. A straight forward and truthful answer of "I'm working on a c# class module for monitoring database delivery times" is sure incite suggestion of attempts to confuse. My second instinct was to suggest that it couldn't really be explained to a layperson, after very brief consideration I came to the conclusion that this would likely result in a long and sleepless night on the sofa. The end result was a muddled answer along the lines of "something to monitor automatic things to make sure they're delivered on time". The reception was fairly chilly, I had to make many assurances that I was not insulting her ample intelligence. My question is thus, what is the best way to discuss your work as a programmer with your significant other who is not.

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  • How should I make progress further as a programmer?

    - by mushfiq
    Hello, I have just left my college after doing graduation in computer engineering,during my college life I tried to do some freelancing in local market.I succeeded in the last year and earned some small amounts based on joomla,wordpress and visual basic based job.I had some small projects on php,mysql also. After finishing my undergrad life,I sat for an written test for post of python programmer and luckily I got the job and is working there(Its a small software firm do most of the task in python).Day by day I have gained some experience with core python. Meanwhile an USA based web service firm called me for the interview and after finishing three steps(oral+mini coding project+final oral)they selected me(i was wondered!).And I am going to join their with in few days.There I have to work in python(based on Django framework,I know only basic of this framework). My problem is when I started to work with python simultaneously I worked in Odesk as a wordpress,joomla,drupal,php developer. Now a days I am feeling that I am getting "Jack of all trades master of none". My current situation is i am familiar with several popular web technologies but not an expert.I want to make myself skilled. How should I organize myself to be a skilled web programmer?

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  • You are or will be a laid off programmer - what do you do a year ago, right now, tomorrow, and next week?

    - by Adam Davis
    Many programmers, software engineers, and other technology professionals are out of work, facing layoffs, or are unprepared for layoffs though they feel secure right now. What should every programmer do right now (even if secure in their current job) to prepare them for layoffs down the road? If your boss came to your cubicle while you read this and laid you off: What would you do immediately after? What would you do tomorrow? What would you do next week? It obvious that one should always have an up to date resume, always get recommendations from people when they see you at your best (not when you're looking for a new job), etc. What are the things, step by step, that every programmer should do (or should consider doing) long before they are laid off, when they're laid off, and shortly after being laid off? This is a question with many possible facets. While I want to encourage discussion to center around programming career based answers, please reconsider before downvoting someone because they're thinking in terms of how they're going to prevent going into debt. Bonus catch-22 type question: You can study a new language or technology while out of work, but most places want you to have more than 1-2 months experience in a working environment, not just from a learning exercise. Is it worthwhile to place a priority on new (ideally in demand) skills, or should you instead hone existing skills?

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  • What technical details should a programmer of a web application consider before making the site public?

    - by Joel Coehoorn
    What things should a programmer implementing the technical details of a web application consider before making the site public? If Jeff Atwood can forget about HttpOnly cookies, sitemaps, and cross-site request forgeries all in the same site, what important thing could I be forgetting as well? I'm thinking about this from a web developer's perspective, such that someone else is creating the actual design and content for the site. So while usability and content may be more important than the platform, you the programmer have little say in that. What you do need to worry about is that your implementation of the platform is stable, performs well, is secure, and meets any other business goals (like not cost too much, take too long to build, and rank as well with Google as the content supports). Think of this from the perspective of a developer who's done some work for intranet-type applications in a fairly trusted environment, and is about to have his first shot and putting out a potentially popular site for the entire big bad world wide web. Also, I'm looking for something more specific than just a vague "web standards" response. I mean, HTML, JavaScript, and CSS over HTTP are pretty much a given, especially when I've already specified that you're a professional web developer. So going beyond that, Which standards? In what circumstances, and why? Provide a link to the standard's specification.

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  • Would having an undergraduate certificate in Computer Science help me get employed as a computer programmer? [on hold]

    - by JDneverSleeps
    I am wondering how would employers perceive the Universtiy Certificate in Computing and Information Systems offered by Athabasca University (a distance education institution... The university is legit and accredited by the Government of Alberta, Canada). I already have a BSc in Statistics from University of Alberta (a classic brick and mortar public university in Alberta, Canada)...so I can state in my resume that I have a "university degree"..... Luckily, I was able to secure a very good employment in my field after the graduation from the U of A. The main reason why I am interested in taking the certificate program through Athabasca is because knowing how to program can increase the chance for promotion in my current job. I also believe that if something turns out bad in my current job and if I ever need to look for a new place to work, having the certificate in computer science will help me get employed as a computer programmer (i.e. my choice for the new job wouldn't be restricted to the field of Statistics). Athabasca University is claiming that the certificate program is meant to be equivalent to the undergraduate minor in computing science. I carefully looked at the certificate's curriculum and as far as I am concerned, the certificate program does have the same level of rigour as the undergraduate minor in Computer Science programs offered by other Canadian universities. I am also confident that the certificate program will get me to pick up enough skills/background to start a career as a computer programmer. The reasons why I am not 100% sure on getting the certificate is worth the tuition are: Athabasca University is a distance education institution (accredited by government but still) The credential that I will receive is "university certificate", not a "undergraduate degree" Do you think it's a good idea for me to pursue the certificate, given the two facts above? again, I already have my Bachelor's degree - although it is not in CS Thanks,

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  • The best programmer is N times more effective than the worst? Who Cares?

    - by StevenWilkins
    There is a latent belief in programming that the best programmer is N times more effective than the worst. Where N is usually between 10 and 100. Here are some examples: http://www.devtopics.com/programmer-productivity-the-tenfinity-factor/ http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/HighNotes.html http://haacked.com/archive/2007/06/25/understanding-productivity-differences-between-developers.aspx There is some debate as to whether or not it's been proven: http://morendil.github.com/folklore.html I'm confident in the accuracy of these statements: The best salesmen in the world are probably 10-100 times better than the worst The best drivers in the world are probably 10-100 times better than the worst The best soccer players in the world are probably 10-100 times better than the worst The best CEOs in the world are probably 10-100 times better than the worst In some cases, I'm sure the difference is greater. In fact, you could probably say that The best [insert any skilled profession here] in the world are probably 10-100 times better than the worst We don't know what N is for the rest of these professions, so why concern ourselves with what the actual number is for programming? Can we not just say that the number is large enough so that it's very important to hire the best people and move on already?

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  • Do you think that exposure to BASIC can mutilate your mind? [closed]

    - by bigown
    It is practically impossible to teach good programming to students that have had a prior exposure to BASIC: as potential programmers they are mentally mutilated beyond hope of regeneration -- Edsger W. Dijkstra I have deep respect to Dijkstra but I don't agree with everything he said/wrote. I disagree specially with this quote on linked paper wrote 35 years ago about the Dartmouth BASIC implementation. Many of my coworkers or friends programmers started with BASIC, questions below have answers that indicate many programmers had their first experience on programming at BASIC. AFAIK many good programmers started at BASIC programming. I'm not talking about Visual Basic or other "modern" dialects of BASIC running on machines full of resources. I'm talking about old times BASIC running on "toy" computer, that the programmer had to worry about saving small numbers that need not be calculated as a string to save a measly byte because the computer had only a few hundreds of them, or have to use computed goto for lack of a more powerful feature, and many other things which require the programmer to think much before doing something and forcing the programmer to be creative. If you had experience with old time BASIC on a machine with limited resources (have in mind that a simple micro-controller today has much more resources than a computer in 1975, do you think that BASIC help your mind to find better solutions, to think like an engineer or BASIC drag you to dark side of programming and mutilated you mentally? Is good to learn a programming language running on a computer full of resources where the novice programmer can do all wrong and the program runs without big problems? Or is it better to learn where the programmer can't go wrong? What can you say about the BASIC have helped you to be a better/worse programmer? Would you teach old BASIC running on a 2KB (virtual) machine to a coming programmer? Sure, only exposure to BASIC is bad. Maybe you share my opinion that modern BASIC doesn't help too much because modern BASIC, as long other programming languages, gives facilities which allow the programmer doesn't think deeper. Additional information: Why BASIC?

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  • How can you explain "beautiful code" to a non-programmer?

    - by Daniel Vandersluis
    When speaking with a non-programmer friend, I happened to mention the concept of "beautiful code" and she wanted to understand what that meant, but I was at a bit of a loss as to how to explain it to someone who would have no context whatsoever. When all code looks like gibberish to someone anyways, how can you explain what makes one piece of code prettier than another? Analogies could be useful too.

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  • I'm an experienced PHP programmer, how would it be for me to learn and use Django and Ruby on Rails?

    - by João Paulo Apolinário Passos
    I'm an experienced PHP programmer, I still have lots to learn but I consider myself experienced. I sometimes use pure PHP and sometimes some framework like CodeIgniter. I always wanted to learn new technologies like Python and Ruby, and their best frameworks for web are Django and Ruby on Rails, but I want to ask to persons like me who migrated from PHP to some of this technologies if is it worth it; Thank you

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  • What change in mindset are needed for a Jave/C# programmer when learning Swift?

    - by Ian
    Swift seem to fit into the same “space” as Java/C# as it was created to make it easier to create end user applications. It is also used to target smart phones like Java/C#. However reading it’s documentation it seems to come from anther universe, you could say it is from Jupiter while C#/Java is from Saturn. As a C# programmer I am finding myself making assumptions that are not true, so what are the conceptual “traps” that I should look out for while leaning about Swift?

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  • As a programmer, what would you use a personal Wiki for?

    - by Adam Harte
    Do any programmers out there keep a personal wiki? Either locally or online. What do you use your wiki for? or what might you use one for? I was thinking of starting a personal wiki as a place to record documentation and and other documents for my personal projects, and various notes etc, but how else is a personal (maybe private) Wiki useful to a programmer/developer? What type of things would you put in a personal Wiki?

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  • Do you have to be good at math to be a good programmer?

    - by Charles Roper
    It seems that conventional wisdom suggests that good programmers are also good at math. Or that the two are somehow intrinsically linked. Many programming books I have read provide many examples that are solutions to math problems, or are somehow related to math as if these examples are what make sense to most people. So the question I would like to float is: do you have to be good at math to be a good programmer?

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  • Can you be a manager and a programmer at the same time?

    - by Pierre 303
    Managing other programmers while you are yourself a part of the programming work force. It's a very common scheme, at least in the companies I worked for. Can you be a good programmer or a good manager if you do both at the same time? I'm questioning the effectiveness of an individual that has to be in two very different roles, requiring very different skills, environment, concentration, organization, etc.

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  • As a self-taught programmer, how do I get the academic foundation without attending school again?

    - by hal10001
    I've made a pretty good living as a self-taught programmer, but when I find that I discuss some low-level fundamental topics with my peers who have a CS degree, holes appear in my knowledge. I'm a big picture (architecture) guy, so for a long time this hasn't bothered me, but lately I've wondered if there is an approach I can take that will help me learn these fundamentals without going back to school? Are there books, websites or videos that you can recommend that would give me a ground-up perspective as opposed to a learn it as you need it mentality?

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  • Does relying on intellisense and documentation a lot while coding makes you a bad programmer? [duplicate]

    - by sharp12345
    This question already has an answer here: Forgetting basic language functions due to use of IDE, over reliance? [duplicate] 4 answers Is a programmer required to learn and memorize all syntax, or is it ok to keep handy some documentation? Would it affect the way that managers look at coders? What are the downside of depending on intellisense and auto-complete technologies and pdf documentation?

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  • Can a 20 years old programmer who has been programming daily since 10 get a job that will pay for what he knows?

    - by Dokkat
    I'm a programmer who has been programming daily since I was 10-years-old. Is it possible to get a job with a salary that reflects my programming knowledge, or do I have to be in the same place as someone starting just now, as I've never had an actual job? I am not sure if this kind of question is allowed here and could not find out. If it is not, could you kindly suggest a place to ask this? Sorry for any inconveniences.

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  • What is the most professional way to deal with another programmer who has checked out mentally?

    - by hal10001
    Lead... same project I'm on... shows decreasing interest in project work, especially lead activities. This has been going on for awhile now, and some animosity is starting to grow between us based upon decisions made and overall attitude toward client interactions and tasks. This person is not necessarily a bad programmer, but I can tell is mentally checking out and shutting down. Generally speaking, how do you deal with this behavior?

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  • Is it possible to become a successful programmer without studying CS? [closed]

    - by alexganose
    Possible Duplicate: Can One Get a Solid Programming Foundation Without Going To College/University? I am a student at University College London, I'm not studying computer science but I have a massive interest in computer science. I am studying Natural Sciences which means that I study Chemistry, Biology and Maths. I'm not necessarily asking this question for my specific case but what are you opinions? Is it a viable career choice to become a programmer without a computer science degree?

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  • Does a good programmer need to have good spatial sense?

    - by user297318
    Do you need to have good spatial sense to be a good programmer? I have next to nothing of it (I think it has to do with the differing vision of my eyes). I've already coded quite little things but wonder if this interferes with the ability to 'imagine' the assembly of the code in case of a more complex program? Sorry for my english, I'm Austrian and not so used to write in English.. Thanks for your ansers..

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