Throughout my technology writing career, I’ve created several tutorials on how to do fun things (at least according to my definition) with your computer. While I was working on such manuals (or any other technical reference material, for that matter), I neglected to commit any time to learn how to approach them correctly. I thought that readers already possessed the knowledge and skills necessary to use resources such as mine.
As we all know, assumptions have consequences, as we have seen. Even the most detailed guidance may be undermined if the proper foundation is not in place, allowing aggravating factors to seep in. It is impossible to cover every one of them ensures that someone will run into trouble given enough time and effort. At this stage, all they have is a set of cognitive tools at their disposal.
This helped me understand how critical it is to create a solid foundation for technological endeavors. I don’t know anybody who hasn’t skipped right past the proper protocols to get started on a project, at least in the beginning. This holds for me as well. Even today, I have to remind myself to double-check that my method is correct.
My purpose in this situation is to ensure that, from this point on, we carry out our responsibilities properly. I will walk you through the process, showing you which actions to do and what sequence to complete them. The phases will be broad enough to be applicable across various programming languages, operating systems, and even whole fields of study.
The Journey of a Thousand Bytes Begins With a Single Step-by-Step
Let’s start by sketching out the overall flow of events. Following that, we may go through some of their points of contention again.
Step 1: Make a list of all of the items you’ll need. I use the term “pieces” since it might refer to physical elements in the case of hardware-based projects or installed packages in the case of software-based projects. You, the tinkerer, will be able to determine which parts make the most sense.
In a nutshell, you’re doing an inventory. When you open a package of furniture that has to be constructed, you inspect the contents before beginning construction, correct? It’s the same situation here. In contrast to your DIY table, your project may feature a manifest, which you should review. This stage’s initial step almost certainly composes the manifest, a reasonable assumption. Whatever you do, don’t continue until you’re confident you’ve specified every atomic unit necessary to complete the process from beginning to end.
Step 2: Research how all of the elements interact with one another. We’ll take a closer look at this in a moment since it’s more complicated than it seems. You should be aware for the time being that you will want to examine as much trustworthy material as you need to establish an articulable grasp of how each component operates, as well as how each piece interacts with the others. If you haven’t already, make a list of everything, you learned.
3. The third step is to determine the elements’ sequence that should be installed or assembled. The components may be able to be made in various ways, which means there may be several feasible sequences. Good for you; however, you should choose one and stay with it. In this case, too, only you will know which option to choose since it heavily relies on the project and your style. Make sure, however, that all challenging conditions are carefully adhered to.
- Write a detailed step-by-step tutorial summarizing what you discovered in Step 3. This is comparable to pseudocode — and if you’re performing genuine software development, it’s pseudocode in its most literal sense. Pseudocode is precisely what it sounds like: it has the appearance and behavior of code but is not code. Regular syntax and semantics of natural languages (for example, English) are combined to form the syntax of computer languages. It’s a happy medium between being human and being a machine.
Whether you are stuck for ideas on where to begin, you might see if someone else has already created a guide for your particular project. It’s still a good idea to come up with your own! A web-based tutorial is not a replacement for personal experience. That holds even for the ones I write myself. Use pre-existing guidelines just as a starting point for your research.
Whenever you write a step in your guide where you “do” anything, you should immediately follow it up with a test of what you did. Your project will now have an incremental workflow as a result of this. Continue to wait till the test is successful. Because of this, your process becomes iterative, with each stage being repeated with piecemeal adjustments until everything you’ve constructed up to that point is safe and load-bearing for whatever will be placed on top of it.
5th Step: Set up the environment in preparation for the instructions you created for yourself in Step 4. Consider the example of a cooking show presenter who has all of the ingredients measured, sliced, and prepared in separate bowls, ready to be poured into the pot at the scheduled time. This involves opening all of the appropriate manual pages and notebooks, installing the software you’ll be using (but not running or configuring it yet), and login into any accounts or devices you’ll be using throughout the semester.
Step 6: Put your instructions from Step 4 into action. You’re aware of what you’re supposed to accomplish here; you made that clear in step 4.
It’s not the size of the Step That Matters, but How You Use It
We need to keep a few things in mind during the outlined procedure.
Check the integrity of the information you get before you use it. The vast majority of technical details available on the internet are incorrect, and this is due to the harsh realities of economics. Tech is profitable because there is a high and continuously expanding demand for tech workers, but there is a limited supply of qualified candidates. Many tools have been created quickly to help teach the influx of new computer experts entering the workforce.
This is when the market forces come into play. The quality of goods and services suffers when demand exceeds supply, at least in the near term. Production can be increased more quickly without increasing the cost of raw materials or the price of finished goods, resulting in lesser quality. The majority of technical resources remained free, and there are no more raw materials available today than there were before, resulting in a decrease in the overall quality of training.
However, things grow worse. Not only is instructional material prepared in a hurry and for an audience with a lesser level of technical literacy than the intended target, but the new tech professionals who are taught on these materials quickly rise to the position of “experts.” They then produce the following generation of instructional tools, and the vicious cycle of decreasing training quality goes inexorably downward.
Quality reference sources are available, but they are becoming more difficult to find. This means that you will need to locate reputable resources for yourself to succeed.
There are many tests you may do on a source to determine whether or not it complies with dependable standards:
Is it a for-profit organization or a non-profit? There’s a strong probability it won’t be very beneficial. Many businesses in the technology sector are marketing to people who are not well-versed in their products. The fact is that when companies do have valuable tradecraft to offer, they don’t want to give it away for free – and even when they do, they could utilize it differently than you do.
Is your information coming from a non-profit organization? It has the potential to be beneficial. Examine the organization’s reputation and whether or not it is directly associated with the gear or software, you are tasked with.
What kind of training does your source organization mainly provide? If it is also a for-profit organization, proceed with caution. The focus of these businesses is often job placement rather than the quality of the trainees. If it’s a non-profit training organization, you can bet it’s a good one. Typically, such organizations are tasked with promoting a technology or advancing the area.
Who is the author of your source? If the author, for example, works for a large technology business but is providing the material for free on their website, you can put your faith in them. Briefly stated, always consider who is providing the advice you are reading and why they are doing it.
You should never execute code until you are very confident of what it is doing. Even though it should go without saying, it is vital to mention it anyway. I’m sure we all understand this – yet we’re often too sluggish to put it into practice. Please don’t be careless, or you may find yourself in trouble.
Write Good Pseudocode
The quality of pseudocode is correlated with the quality of the project. The key to writing effective pseudocode is to be as specific as possible. This is referred to as “decomposition.”
To further understand, consider the following real-world scenario. If you were asked to prepare a pot of spaghetti, you would most likely know what to do based on previous experience. However, when we take a closer look, we see that this work is built of almost a dozen presumed stages. There are many steps involved, like purchasing the pasta, obtaining a large pot to accommodate it, filling the pool with water, and so on.
When writing pseudocode, you must break down your approach into these tiny, apparently clear phases to be successful. This is because you are doing something novel and challenging rather than routine and straightforward. Once you’ve broken down your process into its most minor components, you’ll have the perfect level of granularity.
In addition, there is a syntactic element that should be considered.
Each of your atomic stages should be represented by a separate line. Also, make your conditional and looping steps stand out from the crowd. In most cases, this is accomplished by the use of indentation.
Conditional statements should have the condition to be checked on the same level of indentation as the line above (unless it’s a loop or another dependent argument), and each step that must be done to meet the condition below it should be indented the same level as the line above.
Unless it’s a conditional statement or another loop, indent the condition under which the loop iterates on the same indentation level as the line above it (unless it’s a conditional statement or another loop), and indent each step to be performed per iteration underneath it.
Go the Distance, Even When Your Feet Are Tired
It’s tempting to cut shortcuts and choose the probably work approach. Don’t give in to temptation. The following is a self-diagnostic question from a former music instructor of mine: “How excellent would you be if you did all you were meant to do?” By the time you’ve finished reading this essay, you’ve put in the time to figure out what the “correct thing” is. In other words, if you aren’t doing the correct thing, it is not due to a lack of knowledge; instead, you are choosing not to.
Yes, it takes more time upfront, but it saves time in the long run since everything is correctly set up the first time. If you want to be the best version of yourself, don’t choose to be anything less than your best self, depending on your mood.