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Code writing improvements during Corona lockdown

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We're all suffering from the Corona lockdown in Belgium, staying at home, not being able to visit friends/family, and working from home for those who are in the position to do so.

Helping hands in code writing

At the AppSaloon office, there are 2 (PHP) colleagues right next to me for quick questions about PHP code, at home, during Corona lockdown, I can contact these same 2 colleagues as well online, but it 's a bit more of a burden to take actions to call them (not knowing if they have time for you, or if they're busy), or to write a long (chat) text explaining your specific problem to them is sometimes just too much of a hassle instead of just walking up to them saying I need their help with something.

Surely, they are willing to help, like we all are for each other in our team, but it is so much easier to just stand up and ask the person right away, them being so close to you it's easy to tell whether they are busy or not.

This forced me in a way to solve some problems myself, by reading, learning and understanding, like I was used to doing, instead of taking the easy way of just asking.

Asking for help != bad

Don't get me wrong, asking for help is not bad, sometimes it will shed some light on a problem from another direction, making it less complex or easier to solve.

You can learn a lot when someone is explaining to you how to solve a particular problem with code, even in times of lockdown, by screen-sharing or just calling each other. This is the easy way and it's up to you, how you store or use this helpful info, which later on, you can pass on to starting developers or your colleagues again.

Comfort zone = your enemy

But you learn and understand more if you try to solve it by yourself, and this forces you to get out of the safe environment called "comfort zone". I try to teach this to starting / beginning developers, not noticing I was in that same safe environment again for some time. The Corona lockdown pointed me to that self awareness.

15 minutes rule

I try to keep myself to the 15 minutes rule, meaning, if you don't find a solution in a 15 minutes timeframe, you will never find a solution. Asking a colleague for help after that timeframe is the best way to solve your problem. But first try it yourself.

Try to solve it yourself

Sometimes code problems can be real brainteasers and considering your point of view on the issue, this could make it difficult for you to solve it.

  • Lookup some code in previous projects, where you almost had the same problem, see how you solved it.
  • A quick search in Google could help you solve the problem
  • Debug your code, step by step, maybe you see why it's not working as expected.
  • Or use the Rubber duck debugging principle
  • Ask your problem/question on StackOverFlow

In Belgium, there's saying in Dutch: "Het bos door de bomen niet meer zien", or in English: can't see the wood for the trees

No colleagues?

In case you don't have any colleagues to help you, there are specialised sections on StackOverflow to help you out if needed. The community on StackOverflow is eager to help you, but keep in mind you are expected to give back to the community by helping others in return when you have the knowledge. Its a fair give and take.

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