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Ask Slashdot: Getting Feedback On Programming? 196 196

jm223 writes "I'm currently a student at a major university, where I do IT work for a fairly large student group. Most of my job involves programming, and so far everyone has been happy with my work. Since we're students, though, no one really has the experience to offer major advice or critiques, and I'm curious about how my coding measures up — and, of course, how I can make it better. CS professors can offer feedback about class projects, but my schoolwork often bears little resemblance to my other work. So, when you're programming without an experienced manager above you, how do you go about improving?"
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Ask Slashdot: Getting Feedback On Programming?

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  • Try coding for OSS (Score:3, Informative)

    by JoeMerchant (803320) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @06:08PM (#39391719)

    It's going to be nigh impossible to get anyone to review your work code, even though they should.

    If you want some brutally honest critiques of your code, along with a healthy dose of nit-picking and "cultural bias", try writing for one of the major open source projects like FFmpeg, Gimp, KDE, Qt, etc.

  • dont worry so much (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 17, 2012 @06:13PM (#39391747)

    don't worrry so much about improving. you've probably been coding for 2 years or so (given you're in college) and have made amazing progress in those 2 years. the most important thing you can do is use existing libraries. when you reinvent the wheel, no one understands your code. when you use standard libraries, people still may not understand it, but it's going to be faster and more stable than equivalent code you wrote.

    i've been coding for 8 years and as long as your code is maintainable, works, commented, and capable, you're doing a good job. also, for the love of god, don't hardcode your file paths or operating system. use a standard library, never do a system call. when you have do, error check it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 17, 2012 @06:17PM (#39391775)

    You can try posting at least some of the code here:

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 17, 2012 @06:20PM (#39391801)

    There is a Stack Exchange site for this -- []

  • by wrook (134116) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @07:29PM (#39392223) Homepage

    When asked this question, I often think, "How do aspiring writers learn their craft?" People who study English read ridiculous numbers of books. This gives them a base to start from when they are writing.

    Writing your own code is invaluable, but when you are just starting out it helps not only to contribute to open source projects, but also to read, read, read. I recommend going through some interesting projects and then forming an opinion about which ones have the best code. Don't just look at it superficially; try to form opinions on specific practices, idioms and designs. Then choose a project to work on and try to follow those ideas. From that point the feedback will be more valuable.

    One of the things that Kent Beck said one time (possibly in an interview with Floss Weekly; I can't remember) was that his level really improved when he sat down and really thought about what he was doing. He just kept writing things over and over again until he could say exactly why he did everything. IIRC, he wrote down all his ideas and put it in a book on Smalltalk coding practices (which I haven't read yet...) I've been trying to do the same thing lately and it is really beneficial. Forming your own ideas and *then* getting feedback seems to be more productive than writing "just to make it work" and getting feedback.

    Just be open minded when you think you have it all sorted out, but someone else thinks your ideas suck ;-)

Work expands to fill the time available. -- Cyril Northcote Parkinson, "The Economist", 1955