Why is it Better to Learn to Code on a Whiteboard?

When appearing for interviews at big unicorns, or while trying to land an interview, one of the most commonly heard advice is to practice writing code on a whiteboard. Let’s look into it a little more. 


There are a lot of benefits to this. Let’s look at them as well as at last, we can look at a few of the disadvantages too. Practicing to write the code on a whiteboard note only means to buy a new whiteboard and write on it, but also to practice on plain text editors (prefer online) like Google Docs, writing code on a plain paper, etc. Let’s get started.

1. Code Completion

There’s no automatic code completion feature available on a whiteboard. We will have to look at writing each bit of the code on a whiteboard (not applicable in the case of pseudo-code). Though this is a little bit of time-consuming, this enables us to concentrate more on various factors which we usually take it as granted like, parenthesis (brackets), the semi-colons, and similar stuff. Usually, when we start to write some particular task, it gets automatically filled. When we’re writing code on a whiteboard, this feature is not available and we will get ourselves focused on avoiding all those errors. Also, this practice helps us in writing clean code gradually. 

2. Online Interviews

In most of the cases, the initial stage of interviews will be held online, mostly using an online text editor rather than a compiler. This enables the interviewer to look at the code changes in real-time too. In this case, also, there will not be any automatic code completion and others like automatic indentation, which may cause an error in some programming languages or contributes to the cleanliness of the code (physically). If you’re someone who practiced writing code mainly on a whiteboard or such text editors, you will not face this issue during your interviews. Also, you will be able to easily find errors and thereby save a lot of time, which can be used for solving other questions or for code optimization.

3. White Board Interviews

In some of the companies, on-site interviews usually consists of writing code on a whiteboard (usually until arriving at a proper path to write the complete code). In this case also, if you’re new to the whiteboard experience, you will feel uncomfortable and may not be even able to communicate properly.

4. Communication Efficiency

Writing or bringing out what’s in our mind on a whiteboard also helps us to communicate effectively. It’s similar to having us taught using aboard at our schools, which help us understand the concepts easily. We can easily write down anything on a whiteboard and then later work on connecting things. This also improves our thought process. This is also a part of the whiteboard interviews where you will have to arrive at a solution (proper path to move forward to write the code) and in proper communication with your interviewer. There are a lot more based on various circumstances. Now let’s look at some of the disadvantages. 

  • Time Consuming: Writing code on a whiteboard or a text editor is time-consuming because we will have to deal with every word we write on it. But it ultimate enables us to write code on the computer faster, as well as enables us to find the errors quickly.
  • Writing the code twice: We will have to work out the base model and have to replicate it on our system from scratch again too. This might be testing the patience for a few (not for all). But ultimately, this enables us to go through the code again from scratch and helps in optimizing the code or clear random errors that we may have missed.

We looked at the main advantages and few disadvantages (which helps us more) of practicing coding on a whiteboard. Try it out yourself to find how it helps you in the long run. 

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