Tips for Developing Your Developer Skillz

I have decided to keep a list of things I do that make me a better developer. Here’s one:

Leave notes behind you.

It seems like I do a LOT of repetitive tasks, the frequency of which exceeds my recall. So I end up (depending on the frequency of the repetition) relearning how to do many things. So a 2 hour task learned 6 months ago, and could be a 5 minute task today, turns into an hour long task because I’ve forgotten what I did the first time.

So, I take 5 minutes (I’m not kidding, that’s usually all it takes) and create some sort of artifact. If I’ve created scripts in a directory, I create a README file and date the entry. If I’m doing something in code, I create a comment. I use Wiki pages a lot to keep notes. I have notes everywhere. And when I create the note, the “stuff” is fresh in my mind, so it literally takes me 5 minutes to do a brain dump.

Now, you’re thinking, “Okay, but what happens when you have so many notes you run into an organization issue?” Good question, but one to which I would respond: leave the note near the thing you did (see above).

Hope that helps. It’s what I (try to) do.

What Would You Pay for Open Source Software?

I was driving to work this morning and it hit me: what if we charged for open source software? I know FOR SURE there are packages I would pay for, like:

  • log4j
  • Joda Time
  • Spring “Stuff”

There are others, I’m sure. But now that raises (in my mind, anyway), two questions:

  1. How much would I pay?
  2. What would make me think my expense was worth it?

I’m going to be posting more on this issue as I think it through. But I think the answers to the above are, it depends, and Open Source Software Marketing (OSSM), respectively. Yes, Open Source Softwre Marketing (and I’m half-way joking by giving it an acronym, but isn’t that what we do in IT?). I’ve never heard the term (I can’t claim to have coined it, just that I’ve never heard it before). I googled it, and came up with a few links. But basically a developer is NEVER going to trust a non-developer’s opinion of a piece of software. Ever. It’s astonishing to me that the boardroom doesn’t get that. So, where does this marketing come from? I’m thinking, it needs to come from a trusted source (and I don’t mean Gartner, ble$$ their heart$, they $ure do mean well). For a developer, that source is another developer. Period.

Stay tuned.