Of the questions I get asked regularly, the most common is, “how can I be a better developer?” It seems everyone wants to get better at what they do, to get a better job, earn more money, or simply to enjoy their work more. And by the number of times this topic comes up, it seems people haven’t figured out the best way to accomplish it.
But rather than leave the answer for individual conversations, I want to address my best suggestions for improving your developer skills right now.
On Friday of this week, Cal Evans will host Day Camp 4 Developers: Building APIs Developers Will Love and Use. The best part is this event is completely free! It’s being sponsored by MuleSoft, meaning that your ticket is covered. All you have to do is sign up and show up and learn.
DC4D is a great way to move your career forward, and being able to attend for free is an amazing deal that you shouldn’t miss out on. Cal is a good friend of mine and having participated before in his prior DC4D talks, I can tell you that this is an event worth attending. I’ll be there; get your ticket and join me!
The PHP community is engaged in a discussion on whether or not developers should spend time writing new packages that solve existing problems with existing solutions. Ian Landsman uses Laravel as an example of a framework that wouldn’t have existed if nobody ever pushed the envelope of package development. While I agree that Laravel has been a huge leap forward for the PHP world, I happen to disagree with many of Ian’s points.
The fact that Laravel has been successful is not evidence in and of itself. There are hundreds if not thousands of small frameworks that have never taken off. Pointing to Laravel as an example of how developers can and should move forward is a logical fallacy known as post hoc ergo propter hoc, or “after, therefore because of.”
Back in 2009, I signed a contract to write a book. The book was published by php|architect, and was called The PHP Playbook. It was published in 2011. Being my first book, I assumed that going the route of a traditional publisher made sense, but after publishing a book this way, I opted for self-publishing for my next two books.
For individuals considering publishing a first book, going the traditional publication route offers some distinct advantages: credibility, editing, cover and layout, as well as marketing and promotion. Developing an idea for a book can take time, and for those inexperienced with the process, this can be helpful.
If you ask the average PHP developer what they think about WordPress, you may be disappointed with their answer. Their answer may make you think that WordPress is the bastard child of PHP, totally unloved and unwelcome in the PHP community. They’ll cite code quality, community, even personalities in their argument. I’ve even heard stories of a WordPress developer asking a prominent member of the PHP community about using their tool to improve WordPress. The response? “WordPress needs a rewrite.”
And I should know; I’ve been quite vocal in my frustration with the fact that WordPress still tells people it’s okay to use old versions of PHP. And yet, despite WordPress’ shortcomings, it has definite advantages that the PHP community needs to recognize and embrace.
One of the easiest ways to start an argument in developer circles is to propose making a change to the development process. The means of developing applications is so crucial to the process of developing software that everybody has an opinion, and they’re convinced that their right.
One company I worked for had a terribly dysfunctional development process. It started with the product manager (who was not technical) writing a spec. As developers, we’d ask technical questions about the spec, which would prompt changes to the spec. Of course, the deadline never changed. You can probably guess what happened with that deadline.