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Ramblings on coding once again June 18, 2013

Posted by Edwin Ritter in career.
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I learned a long time ago that being good in one thing can limit your career. I did not limit myself and have worked as a software programmer, system administrator, project manager and supervisor. I quickly learned that moving into each new role requires a change in focus and leads to new insights as to how teams interact. In each role, I have always worked with software development teams in one capacity or another.

Over the last two months, I set a goal for myself to re-new my skills (and learn new ones) in software programming. The web is so good at providing learning resources and somehow, I found my way to the CodeAcademy web site. It tracks your progress and also awards badges and points, like a video game.

1stDay_CodeStreakThe first day, I ‘earned’ 68 points and getting back into coding was easier than I thought. I started with a HTML refresher and quickly re-gained a developer frame of mind. While the tools are different since my first job, the actual coding is similar to the bike riding syndrome. I then began using the site every day and  started a consecutive day coding streak.

Each day, I learned more about HTML and moved on to CSS, Java and gained insight into working with jQuery, PHP, Python and Ruby. I find an affinity to the server side apps of PHP, Ruby and Python.

60Day_CodeStreakMy recent daily learning regimen using Codeacedemy has just ended.  I worked my way through 1000 exercises over a consecutive 60 day period. On weekends and holidays, it took a concerted effort to find the time to code. During this streak, I also installed Eclipse IDE, created an account on JSFiddle and reviewed Oracle Java training also. Also a bonus, my MAC OS provides access to the java complier and Ruby via the command line as they are built in to the OS. The command line brings me back to the old days….<insert favorite old soldier story here>.

I’m not done yet and there is always more to learn. My intent here is to keep improving my skills. Having always worked with technical people, I understand the software development process from different perspectives. I also know that being able to ‘wear different hats’ is a positive and makes me more marketable.

Now that I am riding the coding bike once again, I am comfortable working on these applications as part of a development team. I also bring my experience and perspective as a project manager, supervisor and system administrator to the table. I continue to code and to learn about syntax intricacies and improving on my skills.

If you have programming skills, you may be aware of the site I used. For new programmers, it is a good place to consider – especially, since it is free. I like the Eclipse IDE (also free) and have also used DreamWeaver in the past. Oracle provides a good overview with Java also. Everyone builds their toolkit over time. I am refreshing mine and adding new ones.

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Comments»

1. Rob Aught - June 18, 2013

That’s extremely tempting. As a former software developer I am often discouraged over how much my skills have atrophied. Given my current role though, there just doesn’t seem to be time.

I might have to check it out.

Just something to consider though. Being good at one thing can limit your career, but being good at something no one else seems to be good at can help it.

I hate front-end coding. I find it tedious and not very challenging. I’d rather work on the server side. Yet for many years I was the go-to guy for user interfaces because I actually understood usability and I could make the ridiculous designs of our web team actually work the way they proposed. Granted, with modern HTML 5 and Web 2.0 it’s much easier than it was just a few years ago, but graphic designers have always been notorious for coming up with concepts that would make me ask “How do you expect me to make that work exactly?”

Nevertheless, I kept up with that because it was in demand. I finally was able to move off front-end and do server-side work and I liked it much better. In fact, it turned out I had a knack for performance optimization. Still, the front-end coding put food on the table, and videogames in the game room, for many years.

Really, it just depends on what that “one thing” is.

Edwin Ritter - June 18, 2013

Thanks, Rob
I appreciate your comments and for taking the time to provide them. You make a good point on being good on oen thing that is really valuable to others. It is the same with other IT areas – networking, desktop, database, etc.. I hear you with front-end ‘requirements’. I’m trying to be flexible to what the market wants. HTML5 is much easier and the IDEs available are great and can speed up the design cycle. The days of edit, compile, debug, oops and repeat are compressed as a result. That said, it also moves in deadlines.

I did not mention code management, bug tracking and other aspects of the development cycle. Didn’t want to get started with the big ‘R’ – requirements.
Maybe a follow up post.

Keep you skills current and avoid the atrophy! Have a great day and come back again.

2. Matt Bowersox - June 19, 2013

HI Ed. I worked with you as a dotech consultant back in my Rochester/ Kodak days on project Next and other things. Glad to see you are returning to programming. Kudos to you for doing the code academy thing! One thing I would recommend if you are going to continue to refresh the developer skills is learning the GIT version control system. it already dominates the open source world and is penetrating the enterprise rapidly.

Matt B

Edwin Ritter - June 20, 2013

Well, Howdy Matt!
Long time for both of us. Glad you found this post and Thanks for taking the time to send your note. I will look at/use GIT. Have seen that with the Eclipse IDE. Familiar concept as I am used to SCCS from the old, old days…. 😉

Have a great day and I look forward to future comments.

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