If you have a CS background, then you are bound to have encounters with professional projects. Before starting one, you should keep a few things in mind; otherwise, working could be a bit difficult. Here are some tips for a jump start in your professional project development.
Before starting the project, it is a good idea to talk with the stakeholders of this project. It can be a client, a product owner, or a team leader. Talking with them will help you understand the purpose of the project and what is your expected role.
Choosing an IDE or text editor is essential, but there is no need to dwindle between IDEs considering which one is the best. Every IDE is good and has specific good things about them. But not one can have all the features. So choose which one is most suitable for your project.
Version control is the next important thing you need to consider. Otherwise, you can’t access the source code. As a beginner, version control tools like Git can look complicated. But rest assured, it is a very sophisticated tool. Git is here to save your time and make your life easy. Knowing Git in detail will help you understand how to maintain the source code. Rather than using GUI-based tools, it is better to use the command line for Git, but in the beginning, it is unnecessary. You can find some useful git commands in this snippet. If you are not comfortable with git commands, at least know their purposes and use tools like Source Tree, or integrated git tools with IDEs.
It’s a wrong idea to keep multiple copies of the same project in your development machine. If you need multiple copies, use the Git branch for it. If you own multiple copies, it will become difficult for you to keep track of where you made your changes. Hence let Git take care of source changes. No need to do things manually.
The next important thing is to set up the environment for running the project. It is necessary to run the project before starting working on it. Usually, there should be a document (or create the document if it is a new project) on how to set up the project. Many modern projects come with a Docker file, which already has the docker environment configured. In that case, use docker to set up your project.
Before building any essential features, it is better to start with simple things like running test cases. If it is a new project, look into how to write tests for your project, and if possible, add some test cases. Running test cases or writing test cases will give you a glimpse of what the module is supposed to do and help you understand the purpose of the code.
By culture, I meant the language’s design guidelines, git branching strategies, framework structures, design patterns, etc. Each project is different, and the culture behind it could be different, and you should know them before you start to contribute. If you are writing a new project, better follow the philosophy of the framework and language you will use for development. Also, remember that in professional projects, it is essential to have better readability than efficiency. In most cases, we achieve faster performance through a better system architecture. For example, it is possible to achieve better performance using a cache system, load balancer, message broker, etc.
Every great tool is like a double-edged sword; if you misuse it, it will cause you trouble. But do not be afraid of making mistakes. It is better to make mistakes and learn to use the tool properly now than later. You can seek help from anywhere. Luckily, the software community is beneficial. You can ask questions on Stack Overflow (do not worry about downvotes 😄), or create issues in the library’s repository (if it is open source).
Coding in a professional project is different from academic or competitive programming. But this difference is significant, making the professional projects more focused on maintainability, longevity, and readability. I hope the above tips help you start your professional career. Cheers!!
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Last updated: Aug 30, 2023