Find Mentors

18 February 2018 @ 06:46pm by erik
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Problem

You’re walking along a path with no idea of what’s around the next corner or how to prepare for it. You need help and guidance.

The solution the book offers is to seek out those who have gone ahead of you and strive to learn from them. Since our field is fairly young, it can be difficult to find someone who is truly a master craftsman. More than likely you will get support from a series a mentors with varying degrees of mastery. Help can come in many forms, you can get help one-to-one with someone or remotely via the internet. While an apprentice is trying to find mentors, we must remember we are all walking “The Long Road” and no one knows everything. More problems you might have is finding a mentor who in interested in mentoring or who isn’t intimidated by the task of being responsible for another persons learning. It may seem risky to ask someone for help and fear rejection but the payoff is worth it if your offer is accepted. Just as people will be ahead of you, there will also be people who are behind you. You are also tasked with finding those who you may offer to help with information you’ve learned. Passing along what you’ve learned in one of the ways you can being the transition into journeymen status.

I think it’s super important to find someone or a group of people to ask to pass on what they know about the current state of our field. I think work is a great place to meet people that can offer you their skills and knowledge, especially because you will be building relationships with these people and seeing them every day. The text advises picking a tool, library, or community that has an active mailing list and learning the values of the community. Learn who the teachers are and seek out those who may be interested in offering help, I would consider this a great idea. I think sharing what we’ve learned if very important, it helps everybody, it helps the world. I would be super grateful for anybody who’s willing to take the time to share what they’ve learned and I know some people enjoy sharing their knowledge and would be flattered if someone asked for their help.

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The Technical Skills You Need to Have as a Software Developer

16 October 2017 @ 10:51pm by erik
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In this blog post, John Sonmez talks about “soft skills” and how they can help you become a better software developer. Here are some tips from the author:

  • Instead of trying to learn several programming languages at the same time it’s better to have one language that you know in and out, that you are comfortable writing.
  • Structure your code well by writing “good, clear, understandable code that doesn’t require a large amount of comments because the code itself is communicative.” – John Sonmez
  • Having a good understanding of object-oriented design and managing complexity as most popular languages rely heavily on object-oriented design and analysis.
  • Understanding how to create algorithms, and how to modify known algorithms to match your specific needs.
  • Understanding of data structures like arrays & vectors, linked-list, stacks, queues, trees, hashes and sets. These are important to know well, especially if you are being interviewed.
  • Knowing a development platform well is a good idea because some places design for specific platforms (PC, Mac, etc)
  • Learning a framework, or a complete stack. “A framework is simply a set of libraries that are used to develop code on a particular platform or on multiple platforms.” and “A stack is a set of technologies, usually including a framework, that are commonly used together to create a full application.”
  • Basic Database Knowledge, how to add, modify, delete and work with different database systems.
  • Source Control, understanding how to use tools like GIT.
  • Testing, more often projects are being created in small increments and tested as they go, this is allowing developers to catch bugs before they begin to cascade.

I chose this resource because I’m always looking for information on becoming a better software developer and want to become an asset to wherever I dedicate my work. Some of the information is general information but I do think it’s important to work on maintaining these core skills to improve the quality of your work. I learned the importance of working on knowing at least one language very well, along with knowing one platform very well knowing how to implement popular data structures, writing good algorithms and knowing when to use what. I learned the importance of object oriented design and how prevalent it is today. I learned about frameworks and stacks and what they are, and the importance of understanding how databases work. I also learned that more recently developers are being expected to know how to test their code, especially with agile testing.

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How to Work With Someone Else’s Code

16 October 2017 @ 09:30pm by erik
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In this blog post, Justin Albano gives advice on working on code written by others. It can be tough making changes or adding to code that you did not write yourself, another reason why clean code is so important, it helps other have a clear idea of what’s going on. The author notes pitfalls that you should watch out for when working with someone else’s code:

Our Ego: We think we know best, but must respect the code and original author.
The ego of the original author: Working on code written by someone else may lead to questioning decisions made by others which must be met with working with the original author.
Fear of the unknown: Many times you are going to be working on code that you know very little about and will be responsible for those changes. It’s important a framework is built to ensure changes can be made comfortably with no worry.

Some techniques for maintaining clean, functional code:

1. Ensure Tests Exist When current tests are not sufficient, you must create them yourself, which can be challenging. Other times, having tests provided for you, you can learn from the tests what the intent of the code is.
2. Talk to the Person Who Wrote It Communication is key, if you have the chance to talk to the author of the code you’re working on you can get some insight if you’re having trouble.
3. Remove All Warnings This ensures quality of code, and reduces code rot.
4. Refactor Changing the internal structure to make it easier to understand without modifying behavior.
5. Leave it Better Than You Found It Do your due diligence when it comes to maintaining quality for you, and future people working on the same code.

I chose this resource because it gives advice on working with other people’s code, working with existing test cases, or adding your own. It reinforces the idea of clean code because you should leave the code better shape than you found it (if that’s possible). I feel the article had some good information that I will definitely use in the future. I will be working with code that was written by someone else, and will need to write test cases for changes made to the code and maintain it still functions the same. I learned techniques for dealing with code written by others, and doing my best to respect the original purpose of the code.

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