One Developer’s Journey through the Stages of Learning by Ray Gould, 10/02/04
To all those who know how it feels to start at ground zero.
The purpose of this small article is to help those who are just starting out or those who are confused by developing in any language. This will hopefully get you in the right mind set to start your journey for yourself. This journey has many roads and I hope this is a steering wheel for you to help think outside the box of standardization and cliques. Best wishes in your travels.
My book shelves are filled! The floor is riddled with various piles from an array of named publishers while my laptop is cluttered with links and tutorials to cover the world in code many times over. But the mystery of truly being able to develop wasn’t there. A veil slapped my face constantly as I stared at the blank development environment, trying to make progressive steps to advance my interest and career. To no avail, the nights went by wasted.
Many have said, “Just look at other people’s code. Take a look at that and see if you can modify it to do something else or add additional functionality.” Some even recommended buying more books! At first this seemed to work but the hours it took to even decipher some code, some bad code at that, was horrendous and most of the time was spent debugging and getting frustrated while learning wasn’t there and wasn’t apparent in my progress. And for the purchasing of new books, I didn’t have any more space and the ones they mentioned I already had. Various questions always came up that taunted me. “What do I have to do to be able to code like this person?”, “What are they doing where they understand this mystery?”, “Are they simply smarter?”, or “Is it there distinct learning ability and mental prowl ness that enabled them to focus more and see things differently?”Bah! That wasn’t it… but what was it!! The nights went on.
The tides of language continued to toss me about. At points I’ve talked to so many people who praised so many different languages it became apparent that I was the one that had to choose. I stared at them like an infant staring with awe at their parents thinking about how vast their knowledge and skills are. However, I couldn’t walk the way they walked and couldn’t sit in their seats with their aspirations and code their way. It had to be my way for my own reasons. This was the turning point my friend. Having a goal and a purpose of why I wanted to do it in the first place. All glory and noteworthy code aside, it came down to why.
In the beginning my goals were a bit hazed and without concise objectives. I knew I wanted to be a developer and code, but for what? WHY? Perhaps I just wanted to be among the coding elitists. To be called a “true developer”. Really, this was accomplished so early in the journey when I coded, or actually typed, the infamous “Hello World” application in 12 languages! I’m sure you can relate. Every developer book I picked up had this as an opening. It seemed like the same old road without end or for that fact, a beginning.
As mentioned earlier, something changed along this path that really helped put my journey into perspective. I recall a friend telling me,“When you get it, you get it.” No, it wasn’t through osmosis or some paranormal insight. It wasn’t the Dummies books either! Although some of these are good. *motions to his book shelf again loaded with D-books* It came to the purposeful Why!
After scouring the internet for hours, thumbing through books upon books until my eyes stung from reading, viewing cd-rom tutorials into the late evening, and hacking away at make shift code for countless hours that never compiled right, it came to one word! WHY! Yes, having a purpose and gearing my learning toward this was all I needed to stay focused. With a reason why, I had small and long term goals and it emphasized to me the importance of staged development. It helped me progress from baby steps to full fledged front end and backend development. It helped me regain the love I first had when I started out on this journey so many years ago.
My friends, I hope you found this article interesting and a source of encouragement. In the end, do what you feel is right for you. Code and develop what fits your interests, stay focused, and always have the purposeful why in front of you. If needed, take on volunteer work or small projects for others. In the end, the journey does become fruitful and does have satisfying results.
About the Author
Ray is currently 31 years old and lives in CT. He’s been called the Jack of All trades and enjoys learning new things. His interests and skill sets cover a variety of areas ranging from digital photography (http://www.raygould.com), writing, bible teaching/education, family, to computer hardware/software and most recently, software development. He’s been in the Information Technology field for over 10 years and has successfully run his own computer support business. Currently he works for a large financial company offering information security services. His desire to continue to be active and fluent with development is one of his foremost goals. He’s looking intently at learning the .NET languages and framework. His recent multi-language resource site can be found at http://codeplanet.dnsalias.com He welcomes all to come and support it. Ray can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.