DEV Community

Cover image for How to solve coding problems (a beginner's guide)
Programming with Shahan
Programming with Shahan

Posted on • Updated on

How to solve coding problems (a beginner's guide)


let's talk about an important skill for software developers—solving problems.

We'll explore seven concepts to help you solve coding problems quickly and reliably.

Many new developers focus on learning a programming language, which is essential, but experienced developers are more about problem-solving. Top companies test your problem-solving skills in interviews because it's harder to learn than language syntax.

Our Challenge

Now, let's use my real-world problem with pull requests as an example. It's a specialized case, but it highlights a fundamental issue—eliminating manual repetitive work.

When you start programming, you learn a language, but as you gain experience, problem-solving becomes crucial. So, let's dive into these problem-solving concepts.

1. Identify the Problem:

Image Identify the Problem
Start by understanding the nature of the problem. In my case, I have 400 pull requests to merge, and manually doing it would take forever. The goal is to eliminate repetitive work, and in our case, we can automate it using the GitHub API.

2. Research & Refine:

Image Research & Refine
Research the problem and refine it. Google it, check Stack Overflow, and see if others have tackled similar issues. Discuss with other developers if possible. In my case, another developer on GitHub had a script, but we needed to refine it to validate each pull request.

3. Pseudocode:

Image Pseudocode
Write an outline (pseudocode) for how you'll implement the solution. Focus on logic, not syntax. Break down the problem into smaller tasks. In my case, I outlined functions for retrieving pull requests, validating them, and merging.

4. Test-Driven Development (Optional but Recommended):

Image Test-Driven Development
If the problem is critical, write tests before writing code. It helps catch issues early and prevents regressions. I could test the validation logic to ensure the right person made the pull request.

5. Implement:

Image Implement
Now, move on to implementation. Get the code working, even if it's not perfect. Having a working prototype builds confidence that the problem can be solved.

6. Reflect:

Image Reflect
Take a break, get some sleep, and reflect on the code. Improve readability, add comments, remove duplication, optimize time/space complexity, and handle errors. It's easier to improve working code than to write perfect code initially.

7. Practice:

Image Practice
Problem-solving is a skill that requires continuous practice. It's like learning a musical instrument—practice and repeat until it becomes intuitive. Seek feedback from experienced developers to grow.

🍡 Figma can help you develop faster!

Figma is a fantastic tool for developers. The majority of designers use Figma to transfer web and mobile app blueprints. Given this tendency, web and mobile developers need to familiarize themselves with Figma to work with UI/UX designers.

Figma Design


In conclusion, becoming a skilled problem solver takes time and practice. It's okay to face challenges, and with perseverance, you'll turn your ideas into code magic. Keep practicing...

Top comments (5)

valeriahhdez profile image
Valeria writes docs

Very nice breakdown. I'm just learning Python and I've never wrote any test yet. Whats your advice for writing tests?

codewithshahan profile image
Programming with Shahan

Happy to see your interest in writing tests with Python. Python programming is one of the great languages for testing code. You can start with the basics.. for example, write simple unit tests for individual functions to ensure they behave as expected. Over time, expand to cover edge cases (extreme cases) and integration tests to validate the overall functionality of your code. Also, testing frameworks like pytest can make this process smoother.

valeriahhdez profile image
Valeria writes docs

Thank you for the reply!

vini_ferraz profile image
Vinícius Ferraz

Wow, thanks for sharing. Your breakdown really helped me understand the process better!

codewithshahan profile image
Programming with Shahan

Glad it helped you!