6 Unusual (But Great) Ways To Improve Programming Skills

Software development is an immensely broad field, which means that there are always new paths to take and new languages to learn. This is a great thing because it provides room to improve, both personally and professionally. You can truly shape your destiny.

If you’re new to software development, you can get started quickly: a bootcamp over just four months can give you a solid foundation for a career in coding. Given the growing demand for developers, that makes it an exceptional option for anyone looking for a new beginning.

But what if you’re fairly accustomed to coding and simply looking to develop your skill? Maybe there are specific areas you want to learn more about, or gaps in your knowledge that must be filled. To help you out, here are 6 ways to improve your programming skills you might not have considered:

Table of Contents:

  1. Remake an existing tool
  2. Work on a fresh utility
  3. Spend time bug-checking
  4. Read a relevant book
  5. Shadow another coder
  6. Study overlapping topics

Remake an existing tool

While learning your first coding language, or working on professional development projects, you’ll undoubtedly have created small tools. Where possible (which is to say, not legally forbidden by a client contract), you can improve your understanding of a new language by painstakingly remaking one such tool in a new language. This poses an interesting challenge, forces you to get creative, and helps you understand the new by relating it to the old.

Work on a fresh utility

If you don’t want to remake any of your old tools, you can try making something different. Either come up with a new concept to work on, or pick a popular project that’s well-documented to give you a safety net (if you’re ever stuck on what to do, there’s plenty of inspiration to be found). One such project is making a comparison shopping engine: pricing APIs are readily available, and you can make your engine as simple or complex as you like.

Spend time bug-checking

Working on your own code isn’t always the best way to learn, because you can get stuck in that one perspective. That’s why it’s worth putting some time into bug-checking code from other developers — perhaps people you work with, or people you know, or people in a suitable online community. This helps because we’re not good at seeing our own mistakes, but we’re fairly decent at seeing those of others (and learning from them).

Read a relevant book

Perhaps this doesn’t sound so unusual. Reading a book? Maybe you read books all the time. But it’s undeniably true that most people don’t think about conventional books when they think about coding skills. They think about online courses, laptop-based projects, and interactive tools. That’s totally understandable (using digital means to improve digital skills), but getting rid of all distractions and sitting down with a textbook can help you understand the principles better.

Shadow another coder

If you’ve only ever worked solo on coding projects (or collaborated virtually), then you won’t know how your style of working compares to the styles of others. It’s possible that could benefit from taking more breaks, or fewer breaks, or working at different times — and a great way to highlight these possible improvements is to shadow another coder. Just spend a day (or even a few hours) watching them work — with their permission, of course — to pick up some insights.

Study overlapping topics

It isn’t strictly necessary to study coding to expand your development skill. You can also study other topics with overlapping elements or themes. Here’s a great example from the world of philosophy: formal logic. It underpins so much of what developers do, and running through some basic logical problems might broaden your grasp of some core coding principles.

You don’t need to do anything unusual to improve your programming skills: if you want to follow the usual processes, you can still achieve your goals. But if you’re a little bored of the regular tactics, try one or more of these. It might be exactly what you need.