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Pseudocode. What now?

Planted June 29, 2021

This is a work in progress. Hassle me on Twitter if you want to see it finished quicker :)

I was thinking about pseudocode recently and whether it has a place in our learning and development. It came about because I was asked to teach a lesson to new developers and I got to wonder what it offers. Is this just a tool for new developers or is it something we could all be using throughout our careers?

Externalises Thinking

  • Get ideas out of your head
  • Have a language agnostic way of framing problem
  • Expose where the complexity is likely to be early
  • Helps when sharing development with others

Understanding of flow

  • Where is data coming from, what does it look like, what do we want to do with it and what will the end product look like
  • You can start from the end result or the incoming data
  • Opens up questions about new possibilities and adaptations

Ask better questions

  • Knowing where the complexity is likely to be helps focus the effort and thinking
  • If you’re using a new language or framework, then it’s easier to see where the strengths of that language might come into use.

Do you still use pseudocode in your coding practice? Would it help to sit back and doodle the control flow, inputs and outputs before you started to write code?

I know for me this works well in learning new languages and paradigms but I’m encouraged to reach for this tool again before I open my code editor.

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