Jerod Santo

Things we always remind ourselves while coding

note to self: slow down and think... but don't overthink it

Our Frontend Feud game show series forces me to survey JS Party listeners frequently to get their thoughts on software, development, life, and software development life.

Each question has to be accompanied by an <input type=text> because providing choices ruins the entire point of the game. So, before we play I compile all the answers in an SQLite database, group similar responses, and put the most popular ones on the game board.

That “grouping similar responses” step is the hardest part and can be somewhat controversial during the games. I’ve gotten better over the years at crafting the questions to constrain the responses.

For example, instead of asking: “How do you feel about GitHub Copilot?

We ask: “In one word, how does GitHub Copilot make you feel?

Frontend Feud game board
"Anxious" works better in a `GROUP BY` than "I'm concerned that it'll take my job"

Nevertheless, some questions we ask aren’t usable because the responses are just too varied to group in any meaningful way. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t interesting! For our most recent game, we asked our listeners:

“What is one thing you always have to remind yourself when coding?”

The responses were all over the place, so I didn’t use it in the game. But they do provide a cool peak into the minds of developers. It’d be a shame to let them sit privately on some disk drive until its bits fade to black.

So, without further ado… We asked 100 JS Party listeners what ONE thing they always have to remind themselves when coding. Survey says!

R.I.P. to the late, great Norm Macdonald

On health & wellness

  • Exercise
  • Take a break (7x)
  • Don’t burn out
  • Make sure to eat
  • My body position
  • Clean up your damn editor tabs

Pep talk & self-encouragement

  • I can do this
  • It’s ok to fail
  • You can do it
  • You’ll figure it out
  • The solution is probably simple
  • Everyone has the same struggles
  • There’s got to be a way to do this
  • I’m not stupid—this just takes time
  • There IS a solution, just have to find it
  • Writing failing code is not a personality trait
  • It’s going to be difficult before it gets easier

Small things easily forgotten

  • To commit
  • Commit often
  • Check your imports
  • How to iterate objects
  • Something related to regex
  • 16 times table for px to rem
  • JavaScript has explicit returns
  • The computer does exactly what it was told

Following best practices

  • Keep it simple (8x)
  • Verify, don’t trust
  • Don’t DRY too soon
  • Add sensible comments
  • Good commit messages
  • Simple is better than smart
  • Don’t forget to do that side refactor

Remember testing?

  • Write tests! (4x)
  • Run the tests
  • Are there any tests?
  • Cross-browser testing
  • Test more than the happy path

Focus is everySQUIRREL!

  • Not to drift off
  • Don’t surf the web
  • One thing at a time
  • Read docs properly
  • What am I working on?
  • Read the documentation
  • Read (and reread) the error message
  • Finish committing before pushing (seriously)
  • You don’t have time to try that new thing out
  • (distracted) What was I supposed to be doing?
  • Don’t spend an hour on tiny things that don’t matter

Slowing down vs going faster

  • Slow down
  • Ship sooner
  • Optimize it later
  • It’s good enough
  • Stop overthinking it
  • Don’t over-optimize
  • Don’t over-engineer
  • Slow down and think
  • Just get something working
  • Don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good
  • There’s no single perfect solution, there are always drawbacks
  • Better to get something out than sitting analyzing the problem

Considering the bigger picture

  • No one will die
  • Not saving lives
  • Don’t hate on others
  • The end user, not me
  • It’s all for the customer
  • Consider your future self
  • Hi, I’m the problem it’s me
  • Zoom out, see the bigger picture
  • Be sure the problem is worth solving
  • Value is the most important thing that you bring to the company
  • I’m going to have to come back to this at some point, so make it easy to understand

I saved the weirdest best reminder for last. This one doesn’t fit neatly into any of the categories above. I hope Tom Cochrane doesn’t mind, but I gave it the motivational poster treatment so we can enjoy it with the gravity it deserves:

Life is a highway I want to code it all night long
Background image by kimi lee on Unsplash

Your turn!! What’s ONE thing you always have to remind yourself while coding? Is it covered above or uniquely different? Leave a comment below and let us know 👇


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