In this video I put together some basic IDE’s and browsers I install. In the case of browsers that includes more than a few. For the case of IDE’s it’s my standard arsenal of Jetbrains IDE’s and Visual Studio Code. For the previous step in this series, check out the Base OS Load post.
For the next post in this series building a development machine environment check out the browser & IDEs post.
Operating System Notes
When choosing an operating system to work with there are a number of factors to take into account. Some of these factors include;
What language stack and tooling will you need to use?
What focus beyond software development will the machine have?
What apps and tooling do you already have?
There are many other questions, around costs and licensing, and other errata that you’ll need to take into account. One thing however, regardless of what you choose, the bulk of software development with most software languages, their respective tooling stacks work on almost any operating system you’d choose.
In this particular example and the following material I’ve chosen Ubuntu 20.04 LTS (Long Term Support) to use as my operating system. I’ll build a virtualization image of the operating system so that I can reuse time and time again. The virtualization software I’m using is VMWare’s VMWare Fusion software, but just like the operating system you can use most virtualization software and it will work just fine.
Getting a Base OS Loaded
It is often important to load a new operating system installation onto a machine for use in application (re: web/software/IoT/mobile/etc) development. This can help us better understand what is installed and effecting various affects on the machine itself, it can insure that we have known assets that aren’t influencing server or other manipulations, and a long list of positives over taking whatever one is given from the various computer system manufacturers.
This post is the first in a series (here on Dev.to and on my core blog https://compositecode.blog). I’m going through precise steps, but I’m keeping it general enough with pointers and related tips for MacOS and Windows that the series will be useful for anyone building their first or tenth or twentieth development machine regardless of operating system or hardware.
My Installation Specifics
I’m using a Macbook Pro 16″ w/ enough RAM and compute cores that I split off a solid 4-8GB of RAM dedicated to the VM that has the host OS. In addition, I set the compute
To do this, in VMWare Fusion pull up the settings for the Virtual Machine that was created. To note, when the virtual machine is shutdown you can change these settings to add or decrease memory, compute cores, etc. But do note, sometimes this will make an operating system unstable. The rule to follow is, set the resources at time of creation and leave them set.
Once the settings are open, click on the processors and memory option.
That will display this screen where the values can be set. I also show stepping through this process in the video.
What to write when starting to learn and programming language?
I started an answer to the question in this video. But read on for more extensive list and details!
I’ve written up this article. It started last week when I wrote up “Top 5 Ways to get the coding basics down!” This week I wanted to delve deeper into a specific item on that list and provide what I came up with, which is this List of 10 things to write in order to effectively learn a programming language.
1. Find a Known Domain
What I mean by this is to find a domain that you personally know. It seemed the 80’s generation of programmer dorks wrote role playing game character generators for Dungeons & Dragons. I did myself but for Robotech. But there’s a million other domains that you would know, and those domains are what you should pick and find data and actions in that domain you could implement with code.
Two examples I’ve used recently includes the made up e-commerce store of Better Botz, a store that works with the domain of robots and mecha, and Railroads such as Union Pacific, Norfolk Southern, Amtrak, and the respective domain around that. Many of the other things you could use might be transportation, automotive, health care, or more specific the universe of Harry Potter, Star Wars, Tumble Leaf, Sesame Street, style and fashion trends,
2. Model a Domain According to the Language
In C#, Java, Rust, Go, Erlang, F#, and other languages these features and characteristics would be different. Whatever the language, make a list of the features and characteristics that are widely used and work with those to best implement the application domain.
List Interupt: Refactoring
I’ve written this list in order of what I personally have found the easiest path in gaining a high level of profiecience with a programming language. You could however mix the list to your preferred style. However at this point between the first two item efforts and the next a new skill will be learned both out of necessity and intent: refactoring.
“Code Refactoring is the process of restructuring existing computer code—changing the factoring—without changing its external behavior. Refactoring is intended to improve the design, structure, and/or implementation of the software (its non-functional attributes), while preserving the functionality of the software. Potential advantages of refactoring may include improved code readability and reduced complexity; these can improve source code maintainability and create a simpler, cleaner, or more expressive internal architecture or object model to improve extensibility.”
3. Learn to Test
Learning to test an application will help you tremendously in writing better code. If you’ve committed the actions of the first two items in this list, this is an opportunity to significantly refactor the application you’ve built around your known domain. You’ll need to break apart existing functions so that they’re bit size enough to test. Sometimes you’ll need to differentiate between making some testable at a small unit size versus across an application’s hard boundaries, like an integration test between a database and the application’s data access code.
Pushing for testing the core domain functionality of the application is the best thing to focus on. Don’t worry about the specifics of testing if data is written to the database, or data is retrieved from the database, as much as testing that a function returns the specific answer you expected based on passing it the specific parameters you’ve assumed it would be given. This isn’t to say sometimes you may want to test what you’ve written to the database, so sure, that is something that you can test. But focusing on the core application domain functionality will ensure the best return on your investment of time!
4. Clean Coding Practices
Once you’ve gained familiarity with the language by building an application or two using the features, rooted in a known domain that you understand well, and have some test coverage of the application, refactor that application using clean coding practices. Clean code is often described using the SOLID principles:
Single Responsibility Principle
Open / Closed Principle
Liskov Substitution Principle
Interface Segregation Principle
Dependency Inversion Principle
See also: KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid), DRY (Don’t Repeat Yourself), YAGNI (You Aint Gonna Need It), and others.
The idea behind these, is to keep the application code regardless of languages as simple as it can possibly be. With a secondary effect that once software becomes painful to modify, it should be changed as to make modification simpler. Thus the idea of refactoring to the SOLID principles listed, and doing so continuously will keep software in a usable, maintainable, and one could arguable say even a performant state.
5. The Hardest Suggestion: Naming & Thinking
It is often stated, “The hardest problem in computer science is naming things.” to which I, not in jest, whole heartedly agree. Elements in programming, programming design, programming implementation, and every permeable space around programming is littered with poorly named things. I don’t blame anybody because it is damned hard to get a good name for features and functionality, and have truth in the naming of those features and functionality remain throughout the course of its lifetime.
Naming is hard, which I’d combine to say stop programming regularly and think about your naming. Think about refactoring to names that are more accurate to the intent. Stop and ponder what a good name would be, and if the function or feature will replication what that name implies. Add in some metaphysical thought to the whole effort, talk it through with someone you know (or a stranger, it’s a good skill for debuggin!), but think, think, ponder, analyze, and think some more.
The short of the long part of this suggetion can simply be summarized as: Practice naming things, think a bunch, then rename things, and repeat this cycle.
To really get a programming language down by heart, be able to readily implement pretty much anything, this is my go to list of actions and practices to follow. Hopefully, it’ll provide you with some ideas to explore how best you would also like to go about learning a programming language. I’m always open to suggestions, comments, thoughts, and discussions on the topic, so feel free to ping me via the Twitters @Adron.
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