I am sure some of you are wondering why I haven’t put in one line of code into this blog yet. It’s a very valid question and one I asked frequently a year ago, wishing more developers would incorporate code into their blogs but ultimately coding is more than coding. It’s about the basic fundamentals, using a tool to make something cool.
I’ll get to some coding soon but I truly believe the basic fundamentals are needed before you start going down the path of coding. Most importantly, it helps those who think coding is too hard. Of course it’s hard but so is learning to ride a bike as a child – and that didn’t necessarily stop you, did it? Think of all of the missed opportunities you could have in life had you chose to forego learning how to ride a bike.
So before you start writing off coding, here is my top nine truths of coding. I hope you enjoy (and please comment below or send me a message on the Twitters)! 🙂
- Coding is hard. I can’t stress this one enough and I explain coding as a rollercoaster. There are both highs and lows, the highs being higher than anything I’ve experienced in my professional career and the lows… well, they are low. Be prepared for both the highs and lows on top of any stress you may encounter – you’ll be a stronger, and better person in the long run but if you give yourself a lot of scrutiny those low moments will be brutal.
- Find a hero. I can’t stress this one enough – find someone you can go to for insight and who will provide unbiased advice. This person doesn’t have to be physically near you either; it could be someone from GitHub, Twitter or a meetup (see my previous post). Some may call this person, or persons their mentor(s) but this person is much more than that since they understand exactly what you’re going through. Latch onto these people and learn as much as you can from them.
- There’s more than one answer to every problem. As a geospatial professional this one wasn’t a new concept to me but I’ve seen other developers struggle with this one. There are so many libraries and tools you can tap into as a developer. Keep your mind open to new possibilities, even if you have a working application there may be a way to enhance usability or cut down on load time.
- Be prepared to learn… a lot. Something I eluded to in #3, there are so many different languages, libraries and toolsets. This is a really hard concept for someone who is new to development and just wants to get started. Don’t worry about being an ‘expert’ yet, in fact throw that idea out the window. Be ready to learn something new every day and build up your skillset.
- Break down e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. Coding is awesome in that we can fix small pieces to make an entire application better. For example, if our problem is that we need to buy more milk, let’s break it down:
- Q1: How much milk do we need? A1: We need a gallon of milk.
- Q2: How much money do we need to buy a gallon of milk? A2: We need, at most, $3.00 on either a credit card or in cash.
- Q3: How do we purchase the gallon of milk? A3: We will walk to the convenience store down the street.
- Q4: What if the convenience store doesn’t have a gallon of milk to purchase? A4: We can walk an additional five blocks to a larger convenience store.
Some of these questions could be broken down even further (ie: What kind of milk?) but you get the point. Breakdown each problem into individual components, for both your sanity and your code’s sake. To get going on this respect, start by writing out some of the processes you plan to take. Eventually it’ll become second nature. Trust me on this one.
- Find a group of peers. While I would recommend finding a hero first, this is also of huge importance. When you experience a low point in your coding journey you will need your peers, who understand what you’re going through, to be by your side. Plus, you’ll be able to learn cool new things together.
- Get outside. A lot of people believe that developers sit at a desk all day. Yes, that happens and then we go crazy. If you are stationed at a desk all day, get up! Visit your coworkers, even if they aren’t fellow developers, go for a walk or grab a cup of coffee. The ‘experts’ agree, a change of scenery helps keep our creative juices going. I don’t have a link for this one but there has been a lot of momentum on this in the last month.
- Get rid of the BS, if you can. Sometimes it’s not possible to do this but get rid of any unneeded stress in your life – whether it be a task or person. If someone keeps blowing you off, they aren’t worth your time and they aren’t a good friend of yours. Remove/omit these things from your life and do it now, you’ll be much better off.
- Do something fun! I know, coding is already fun, right? But seriously, do something fun with your code, at minimum 2-3 hours a week. Whether that be doing a Twitter chat every week, finding a cool new library that does nothing relevant to the work you do (but could in time), grab a coffee/lunch/beer with a coworker to ‘talk shop’ or whatever it is that you find fun.