Dig Deeper

29 April 2018 @ 10:13pm by erik
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Problem

You keep running into difficulty maintaining the code you’ve written because it turns out that the tutorials you followed cut corners and simplified complex issues. You find that your superficial knowledge of a thousand tools means you’re always floundering whenever a subtle bug arises or you have to do something that demands deep knowledge. People often accuse you of having a misleading CV because you don’t distinguish between a couple of weeks of extending an existing web service and a deep knowledge of the issues inherent in maintaining an interoperable and highly scalable enterprise system. What’s even worse is that because your knowledge is so superficial, you’re not even aware of how little you know until something or someone puts you to the test.

Solution

The solution the text offers is to “dig deep into tools, technologies, and techniques. To acquire the depths of knowledge to the point that you know why thing are the way they are.” Depth meaning you understand the forces that leads to a design rather than just the details of the design. Areas where you have deep knowledge feed your confidence and allows yourself to apply your value early when on a new team. Having the background knowledge of how things work gives you the ability to fall back onto that to tackle difficult challenges and allows you to explain the inner workings on to tools and systems you are working on. This knowledge will help you in interviews, setting yourself apart from others because you can explain how a system or tools works. Using primary sources is the best way to understand the deeper workings of things, you can follow the trail of information that leads you to the decisions made along the way and why they were chosen.

This pattern is overall good advice for anyone who want’s to be a software craftsman. It’s important to Dig Deep into something you are passionate about. You don’t have to know everything about programming and software design but you should know a good amount about a few important areas. The ability to fall back on that background knowledge keeps you from struggling to understand new concepts, and makes you an asset to any team because you understand what’s going on beneath the surface. With this knowledge you can help others by explaining things in a clear way. Doing research and looking into primary resources allows you to get to the core of the information. It takes time to learn how things work but the benefits are worth it. This pattern will definitely improve my professional career and ability to help other understand deeper concepts.

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Use the Source

22 April 2018 @ 09:49pm by erik
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Problem

Without exemplars of good practice to study and emulate, the Practice, Practice, Practice pattern only entrenches the bad habits you don’t know you have. If you never walk a mile in someone else’s moccasins, you may come to believe that all shoes are meant to have stones in them. So how do you find out if your work is any good, given that those around you may not have the ability to tell good code from bad?

Solution

The solution the text offers is to seek out other people’s code and read it. Start looking into applications and tools you use every day. It allows to you to learn how other professionals write code, and the thought process behind creating the infrastructure you’re using. When examining open source projects, it’s best to download the most recent version and preferably from the direct source so you can inspect the history of commits and track future updates. Learn the codebase and how the files are structured. Think about how you would have done things differently, and if maybe you should rethink the way you do something because someone might have a better solution.

This pattern has good tips on learning from the source. I liked the idea of starting with tools and applications you work with every day, I think starting with open source projects is a great way to learn how current professionals are writing code and what practices they are utilizing. You may find things you disagree with and things that make you re-think how to approach a problem. I think it’s also good advice to seek out others to read code you’ve written and have them offer feedback. It refreshing to know that so much content is available open source, and it can give people like me access to real working programs that I can learn and possible contribute to in the future. I like the idea of looking into sites like Git, Subversion, and Mercurial and learning how these projects work, and what design patterns and algorithms they are using. I believe reading and understanding open source projects will make me a better programmer, and will help me greatly in my professional career as I continue to add to my toolbox of best practices.

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Record What You Learn

15 April 2018 @ 09:23pm by erik
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Problem

Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

Solution

The solution the text offers is to keep a record of your journey in a journal, wiki, or blog. Having a chronological record of the lessons you’ve learned can help those you mentors you, it can also be a vital resource to draw upon when needed. Those who follow this pattern sooner or later realize they’re trying to solve a tough problem and use what you’ve recorded to solve the problem. Try to avoid writing lessons down and then losing the information and forgetting to keep it updated. An example the text offers is someone who keeps a wiki for his private thoughts and the other for sharing with the world.

I think the pattern is good advice, I like the idea of keeping a blog to update as I start my career as an apprentice. I liked the idea of having two wikis, one designed for personal use and one to share with others. Having a more personal blog or wiki allows you to be painfully honest with yourself and the progress you’re making. Having something to go back to and refresh yourself has many benefits and can help you in a bind when you might not have anyone to ask. I keep cheat sheets at the current job I work and having that information saved makes my job much easier. Another good suggestion from the text is creating a textfile or page on a blog or wiki to save tidbits of information or quotes from software craftsmen, in the example the book noted, someone uploaded all their saved quotes online for others to learn from. I like how this patterns ties into the Breakable Toys pattern, you can start projects that you can share online, creating a chronological history of every step of the project, where things went wrong, and what you did to fix it. I think during my time as an apprentice I will continue to blog what I learn and keep the lessons I learn from mentors and colleagues. I like the idea of Sharing What You Learn, a lot of the lessons I’ve learned have come from other people who’ve taken the time to create blogs posts or YouTube videos describing the steps they took.

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Kindred Spirits

8 April 2018 @ 08:09pm by erik
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Problem

Organizational cultures that encourage software craftsmanship are rare. You find yourself stranded without mentors and in an atmosphere that seems at odds with your aspirations.

Solution

The solution the text offers is to keep your momentum going, there will be times when you may not have access to a mentor so you must keep in contact with those who are walking a similar road you are, as well as seeking out others who may be looking to excel. The Long Road is not something you walk alone, some relationships are short and effective, others are long lasting, and help nurture your passion. Though there are many benefits of a community of like-minded people, you need to be wary of group-think. It’s O.K. to follow the crowd sometimes but must always remain vigilant and question something when you feel it’s important.

This pattern is a good reminder to always try to keep people around that you can rely on to share experiences and learn from each other. I think it’s interesting you can have mentors all over the world, you may have never even met in person but you have a connection because you are walking a similar road. Having a Kindred Spirit to talk to, to take a break from the 9 to 5 work and share something that may be new or interesting. The dynamic is different because you can share what you know without coming off as a mentor you should follow. Kindred Spirits reminds me how important relationships are especially with the people you work with, as they can be great resources especially when you need advice on something work related. Having a community around you is another good way to ensure you have kindred spirits, and I like the idea of healthy debate, to keep the community fresh and healthy. I like that the pattern encourages finding those in community who may have a broad interest in software development, but then slowly find those who may have a particular niche that you may benefit from. Knowing those with obscure knowledge can help you when you if you ever find yourself in a situation where you are working on something unfamiliar.

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The Long Road

25 March 2018 @ 09:01pm by erik
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Problem

You aspire to become a master software craftsman, yet your aspiration conflicts with what people expect from you. Conventional wisdom tells you to take the highest-paying job and the first promotion you can get your hands on, to stop programming and get onto more important work rather than slowly building up your skills.

Solution

The solution the text offers is to first accept that what you want to become might be strange to others, and second to always think in the long term. Value learning and long term growth opportunities over salary and traditional notions of leadership. By focusing on your long term development, you are enriching yourself with a set of skills that aide learning, problem solving, and developing strong relationships with your customers. Keep in mind the length of your journey, if you have 20 years of work ahead of you, you have plenty of time to master your skills. The text mentions that this pattern is not for someone who wants to become CIOs or product managers, or filthy rich. Thankfully the software development field is constantly changing and new opportunities are always available.

I think this pattern is a good grounding for anyone who may be a little too ambitious, and may take promotions without understanding how this may affect the Long Road. Unfortunately, sometimes taking a promotion means a break from learning, and while you may be making better money, you may be setting yourself up for failure down the road, or at least you want have the same skills and knowledge you would if you continuously worked on being a software craftsman.  I do think it’s important to always consider the Long Road, where you are in your career and what kind of job you want. I think this pattern is subtlety saying that taking jobs as mangers or corporate executives may not be as rewarding as working on their craft their entire career. This pattern is a good reminder to me to keep the long road in the back of my mind and focus on always putting myself in a position where I can learn new things and hopefully avoid burn out.

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