Content tagged programming

Developing in a team

posted on 2019-07-30

Although a lot of scientists who write code usually work on their own, there will always be occasions when one becomes part of a development team. This could be because a junior colleague is joining your project (or vice versa), or because the software you are working on is so large and complex it requires the joint efforts of several people to complete. These scenarios not only make the principles we have already discussed more important (readable code, good architecture, etc.), they also necessitate a whole new set of procedures.

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Programming tools: paradigms

posted on 2019-07-08

When we talk about “using the right tools” in programming, that applies to a lot of different choices one can make. One is the choice of programming language, which we covered in the last article. Another important “tool set” to be aware of is that of programming paradigms.

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Programming tools: languages

posted on 2019-07-01

Programmers love to debate about programming languages. Almost everyone has their favourite, so discussions as to the relative merits of each often degrade into “holy wars”. Although no one will ever find the “perfect programming language” (despite numerous claims to the title), it is nonetheless instructive to compare different languages. After all, not all languages were created equal, and each have their individual strengths and weaknesses. Knowing about these can help you choose just the right language for just the right situation – in short, to use the right tools.

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Dealing with Errors

posted on 2019-06-24

The Jargon File defines programming as: “A pastime similar to banging one's head against a wall, but with fewer opportunities for reward.” Every programmer knows the frustration of looking for bugs that just won't be found. In fact, the majority of a software's development cycle is usually devoted not to the original writing, but to the subsequent debugging. Somebody who is good at finding and fixing mistakes therefore not only produces more reliable code, but is also a more efficient developer. So what techniques can we use to find bugs, or, if possible, prevent them occurring in the first place?

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The Art of Abstraction

posted on 2019-06-17

“Software's Primary Imperative has to be managing complexity”, says Steve McConnell in his book on software construction. In the first article of this series, I already said that reducing complexity makes software simultaneously more reliable, understandable, and extendable. Now, we are going to take a look at how that is possible.

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Understandable Software

posted on 2019-06-03

Having begun our series on software development with a broad look at the basic principles, let us now get down to the nitty-gritty. We said the three key aims of a developer should be software that is reliable, understandable, and extendable. As the second of these is probably the easiest, let us start with that. So how do you write software that is easy to understand?

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Principles of Software Development

posted on 2019-05-27

Working at an institute for computational biology, my colleagues and I deal with computer code almost every day. Yet none of us is a trained software developer as such – we are biologists, physicists, and mathematicians who happen to have learnt a bit of programming on the side. Some of us (like myself) got into it as a hobby, most picked it up along the way. So over the past few weeks, I started to ask myself a question: “How can we become better at developing software?” The next question came naturally: “Well, what is good software development?”

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An Impression of Common Lisp

posted on 2018-12-04

Common Lisp is a lovely language to work with. Although it has faded into an unfortunate semi-obscurity on the modern computing landscape, it is still a powerful and elegant language that is a joy to use. I've had a lot of fun playing around with it and discovering more about it in the past two months, and wanted to record and share some of that in this post.

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Unless otherwise credited all material Creative Commons License by Daniel Vedder.
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