17 Feb 2013

The Value of Experienced Developers

I had the pleasure of talking today via Twitter and Skype with Wes Garrison, Founder of Databasically, one of the organizers of Ruby Midwest and all around nice guy. We met back at SteelCityRubyConf during the CodeRetreat and have been in intermittent Twitter contact since.

We talked about a project that I’m finalizing in order to pitch to my company. His feedback on the app, especially in pointing me directly to a solution for highlighting, reminded me that I need to spend more time with experienced developers. In those few minutes he pointed me to the tools that increased the value and utility of my product. Within minutes of getting off of Skype, I added the highlighting feature, tweaked the CSS, and a bit of the underlying Ruby. It’s a big improvement :).

After the Skype conversation ended, the conversation continued on Twitter with Wes pointing out that I should consider using the Decorator pattern in my Rails application. I remembered seeing Draper on Github and an hour later I had a working implementation that abstracted away some complexity from my views. Yet another point related to him having more experience than I.

I’m reminded how much easier it is to learn from people who have already walked a certain path and distilled the necessary knowledge, rather than re-inventing the wheel yourself. This isn’t to say that developers should rely on others for all their answers, but I’ve been 100% self sufficient with my trusty Google-based answers thus far. It’s time for me to better network and share knowledge.

To this end, I need to make time for remote pair programming. I met @JoelByler of LeanDog at a CodeRetreat in Cleveland earlier this year. We discussed remote pair programming for fun, but with household responsibilities, preparing a product to pitch, and longer than normal work hours it’s been tough to schedule.

But tough to schedule is no excuse. I’m getting more diligent about reducing my time consuming blog posts and external information and making a dedicated goal of increasing my productivity. Not hoaky productivity like you see blogged about on Lifehacker.com where you read about a million ways to improve productivity while accomplishing nothing in life. I’m talking serious productivity of cutting out unnecessary fluff time, idle web browsing, and conserving effort for producing things. Some of my current goals in this regard are another couple of web applications related to my industry, a series of webcasts, building a newsletter list of people interested in the theme of the screencasts and providing that set of readers with tailored articles. I’ll have a much easier time of this if my employer sees the value in the product I created and transitions me into a development role. That way the web apps can be developed during work time :) where they will also be consumed by my fellow teammates.

In closing, I’m working on things that I can control and appreciating good advice when I get it.

If you’re reading this in the Kansas City area and need help with tech stuff, Wes Garrison @ Databasically will solve your problems. Give him a ring.

If you’re in the Cleveland area or just want a good group of people to work with for your Rails application, get a hold of LeanDog. Joel Byler, Steve Jackson and the rest of the crew are a good group of folks.