Some of my favorite childhood memories include summer family road trips from California to Illinois in a red, two-door Ford Fairmont without any air conditioning, squished between my brothers in the backseat. Jeff, my younger brother, leaving his brand new Tauntaun from The Empire Strikes Back (the one with the open belly rescue feature) in the back windshield during one of our stops and it melting into a pile of goo.
My father was a history teacher and my mom a lifelong learner, so we would stop at every historical landmark along our route (and sometimes go out of our way to find them) and my brothers and I had to document our experiences in our journals.
As you might imagine, Independence Day in the United States of America (the 4th of July, if you weren't aware) was kind of a big deal for a family with parents who held a passion for history. We celebrated, as most modern Americans do, by spending time with friends and family, barbecuing or picnicking, watching parades and outdoor concerts, and always ending the night with fireworks. But my parents also always ensured we understood the what and why behind the holiday we were celebrating.
Maybe I’m feeling a bit nostalgic, but it seemed only fitting that I write a blog post (like a journal entry) this week with a nod to Independence Day, while being fully aware that to anyone outside of the United States, 4th of July is just another day.
To that end, I’ve compiled and present a parade of knowledge from 13 industry influencer friends, with advice from each of them about programming/being a programmer. Thirteen because that is the number of original colonies represented by the 56 delegates who signed the Declaration of Independence; a parade, because, well, that’s just one way we celebrate.
Hope you enjoy! And if you have a Tauntaun, please don’t leave him in the sun 😊.
Tim Huckaby. “You are not the user. You do not build software for yourself. You build software for people like Grandma Huckaby. And if Grandma Huckaby gets frustrated trying to figure out your user interface then that's a bad user experience and you have failed.”
Jeff Fritz. “Leonard Nimoy said: ‘The miracle is this: the more we share, the more we have.’ It applies to our knowledge: write blog posts, give presentations, share what you have learned. It applies to open source: when you share your code, your team will grow beyond your local group and your project will become more than you ever imagined.”
Rachel Appel. “Sometimes the best solution isn’t the new, shiny technology. Sometimes it’s the mature, possibly boring, tried but tested technology.”
Brian Randell. “Go beyond the code and be human—develop relationships in person and online.”
Ted Neward. “ ’I only know that I know nothing.’ —Socrates.
‘Let the system tell you.’ —Agile proverb.
‘No, you DON’T know where the bug is, so fire up the damn debugger already.’ —Ted Neward”
Jeffrey Richter. “Don't perform premature optimizations. Get your code working first. And then, if there is a performance issue, profile the code to find the exact bottleneck. Then, optimize the bottleneck.”
Michele Leroux Bustamante. “It is impossible to be ‘bored’ when you work in technology. The work is always interesting, challenging and fun—and it's never done, so you'll never run out of things to do. Career opportunities are literally endless. Embrace that, but harness it and make it work for you while finding time for other important personal things.”
Deborah Kurata. “We each have a unique superpower: speaking, posting, open-source support, finding bugs, explaining complex concepts clearly. Find your superpower, and use it to help the community.”
Scott Hanselman. “Don’t give bile a permalink. Explained: don’t be unkind, rude, unsupportive or negative online. Later, you will feel different, but that URL you linked your bile to will always exist—and it will find you.”
Julie Lerman. “Stay curious. There’s always time to learn a little bit about something that has piqued your interest and no need to become and end-to-end expert on every single topic. You can learn a little thing and quite often still benefit from it. Sometimes the benefit is just sating your curiosity but a great side effect is that it keeps your learning skills sharp.”
Jeff Prosise. “ ‘Good’ code isn’t really good code unless it’s maintainable. I would rather see four lines of code that are easily understandable than one line of code that works magic but isn’t easily decipherable. Comments are a crucial element of good code. Make it easy for the person that succeeds you to understand what you did and why you did it. Doing so might prevent him or her from repeating your mistakes. And if, in an interview, a programmer tells you ‘good code is self-documenting,’ show them the door – quickly.”
Jeremy Likness. "Always write just the right code to get the job done and nothing more. Keep it simple—writing code for what might happen or you may need later can quickly complicate an otherwise elegant and straightforward solution. Simple code is easy to update when requirements change."
Burke Holland. "Learn to use your editor. Really learn it. Every time you reach for your mouse, think: 'Can I do this with keyboard shortcuts?' The answer is probably, 'yes.' Force yourself to use them. It will take longer at first, but you will be astonished at how much faster it makes you and it happens quicker than you think. For more editor tips, check out: http://vscodecandothat.com"
Sara Faatz is a senior product marketing manager on the Progress Telerik team. She has spent the majority of her career in the developer space building community, producing events, creating marketing programs, and more. When she's not working, she likes diving with sharks, running, and watching hockey.