Practice makes perfect

It is amazing how the blogging world gets the industries finest to respond and react. This CS student wrote asking how one starts out in programming. Grady responded and so did many others. It made me think how I started and it is pretty much the same as the advice given – code, write more code, and read a lot of other peoples code. I remember when I was working in the military and even at the Bank; I use to live a dual life. I mostly did IBM technologies by day and Microsoft technologies by night. What was interesting was how many times I was able to do something because I knew both. In the military I wrote Ada and Delphi all during my real job and when I went home I practiced writing Windows applications in C and C++, then eventually VB. Worlds started colliding when I worked at the Bank and started doing heavy Lotus Notes and Domino programming in Lotus Script, HTML, JavaScript and Java. I was tasked to write many server side tasks on the Notes and Domino servers and my choice was C++ for speed. Until then I really did not do much “professional” work in C/C++. I was introduced to some cool cross platform development for the Domino platform – which ultimately got me a great job at Iris.

Unfortunately I do not have the time to be in both camps any more and most of my MS Windows based knowledge is a good 5-7 years old. My life lately has been mostly Java, Eclipse and portal technologies and there does not seem to be time for much of anything else – except the never ending design reviews. The good news is, as we all get more knowledgeable and “mature” in our careers we become less dependent on the languages we know and more intrigued in things like software design and architecture.

I am currently trying to enhance my writing and communication skills – something that was never really tasked throughout my career. So my advice to the young developer is just skip development all together and go take some writing classes and off shore the development! (just kidding) But ironically enough I want to write about coding, best practices, testing and architecture. So the only way to stay sharp is to keep reading, writing code, and learning the latest and greatest!

My advice is to read a lot of books on software development. Become an “Expert” in an area, language, or platform. Do the things you “love” to do and success will follow. Do things that are in high demand and money gets thrown at you!

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