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Programming can be an arduous and time-consuming process, so team leaders need to stay on their toes to keep developers on track. Meeting demanding production timetables isn’t always easy, but programmers can make greater strides to improve their productivity and develop higher quality software in a shorter amount of time. The trick is to avoid some of the common pitfalls that development teams fall into. By staying nimble and working around these obstacles to productivity, programmers can position themselves to better meet the increasing demands of the modern software development industry.

Address software flaws now, not later
InfoWorld’s Peter Wayner recently offered several tips for programmers interested in boosting their productivity, highlighting the need to fix bugs and other software flaws before they can become larger problems. Because of the hectic pace of development, programmers often feel pressured to either take a quick-fix mentality to performance issues or sometimes ignore them altogether for the time being. Wayner referred to the build up of software flaws as “technical debt,” cautioning that in many instances, developers never go back to make the necessary changes.

“Every project has some technical debt. Sometimes it can be paid off quickly, but often the next generation shows up and finds it’s starting off in a hole,” Wayner wrote. “They need to build what the last generation never did.”

Nipping these issues in the bud when they haven’t become embedded in the code is typically the most cost-effective approach to fixing bugs. The longer a flaw is allowed to remain, the more difficult and expensive it will be to remove it down the road. For the sake of team productivity, it’s better to just take these problems on when they’ve been identified. The rise of Agile development has made this approach much more realistic for programmers. Whereas traditional waterfall methods made a clear delineation between developers and testers, Agile has torn down these distinctions and paired these two groups together. Working side by side from the outset of a project, programmers and quality assurance pros are better poised to fix software errors as soon as they are discovered.

Look deeper at underlying causes
Programmers, like doctors, are prone to simply addressing the symptoms of a problem and not the issue itself. As #AltDevBlog contributor Niklas Frykholm noted, this approach can lead to spotty software quality, as problems continue to perpetuate long after their overt symptoms have been addressed. To fully exterminate a particular bug, programmers will have to take a page from Dr. House and look beneath the surface to ascertain the root cause of a bug. Following the cynical doctor’s lead, development teams can avoid spending hours upon hours fixing issues later on in the production cycle. In addition, this will improve the overall quality of the software, as fewer performance issues will remain in the finished product.

“See bugs not as nuisances, but as chances to improve your processes and increase the quality of your code,” Frykholm stated. He later added, “In this way, you are not just patching holes and fixing leaks, you are actively making things better. This not only pleases the people who come to you with problems, it also makes your work feel more meaningful.”

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