Being a Better Developer

Search for the term ‘better developer’ and you find nearly 70 million results. It seems like everybody has an opinion on how to become a better developer, even the bad developers will tell you how to be a better programmer. After reading many of these programming self-help articles on being a better developer I found that the core message was all the same! If I could boil down the advice of all these results into a succinct list of how to be the best developer we are left with the following…

  • Read Everything
  • Learn Fast
  • Practice What You Know
  • Try New Things
  • Strive for Simplicity
  • Write and Teach
  • Assume Nothing
  • Question Everything
  • It is Not Personal
  • Know Your Tools
  • Rinse and Repeat

There is no one Golden Rule for becoming a better developer. Instead of single rule or a unifying theory of software development we have a set of core beliefs and best practices.

Here is the insight from many other developers on how to be a better software developer. In reading their advice, think what is universally true for all developers. What can we learn from each other, no matter the development platform or programming language we use?

  • Becoming a Better Developer
    • Find/Rediscover Your Passion
    • Remove Distractions
    • Listen to Podcasts & Read Blogs
    • Blog
    • Learn a New Technology Each Month
    • Get Involved in an Open Source Project
    • Seek out Local .NET Groups or Nerd Dinners
  • 8 Tips To Become A Better Developer
    • Do the simplest code possible
    • Use the simplest technology
    • Focus on your actual task
    • Do not write temporary code or it will last forever
    • Invest time to think about the best technology and approach to use
    • Apply design patterns and good OOP principles
    • Write semantic code
    • Do not be afraid of saying “I don’t know”
  • How to be a better developer?
    • Assume You Know Nothing
    • Listen to PodCasts
    • Watch WebCasts
    • Watch ScreenCasts
    • Forum Participation
    • User groups meetings / Community meetings
    • Read Books
    • Read Blogs
    • Learn to use other technologies
    • Adopt a Development Methodology
    • Do not procrastinate
    • Try to hang up with people that love software development
  • 7 ways to be a better developer
    • Keep your ear to the ground
    • Give your users a place to talk to each other
    • Start a public bug tracking system
    • Release early, release often
    • Talk to your users
    • Be responsive
    • Participate in the development community
  • How to be a better developer?
    • Know what your framework has to offer, use it
    • Extend the wheel, do not reinvent it
    • Write technical articles
    • Give technical presentations
    • Write quality code
    • Do not write “temporary code”
    • Test your code
  • Being A Better Programmer
    • Plan For The Worst
    • Expect To Forget
    • Document Choice
    • Human Error and Monkey Business
    • Admit Your Own Limits
    • Fix It, Don’t Hack It
    • Step Softly and Carry Nothing
    • Don’t Get Personal
  • Six ways to build a better developer
    • Never stop learning
    • Reuse, reuse, reuse
    • Understand the business side
    • Get a mentor, or be one
    • Don’t be afraid to critique your code
    • Be nice to nontechies
  • Becoming a Better Developer
    • Ensure your foundations
    • Target what interests you
    • Read beyond the official documentation
    • Write code regularly
    • Try explaining what you’ve learnt to others
    • Enjoy it
    • Look at and learn from other people’s code
    • Learn from other developers mistakes
    • Know yourself
  • Becoming a Better Developer
    • Know Your Core Competencies
    • Enjoy the Panorama
    • Know What You’re Building
    • Don’t Use a Dull Knife
    • Become a Manager
    • Know Your Archetype
    • What Do Your Colleagues Think of You?
    • Get a Massage (and Get Your Boss to Pay For it)
  • Being a Better Developer… in 6 months
    • Reading
    • Writing
    • Speaking
    • Community
    • Learning
    • Code, Code, Code and more Code
  • 4 ways to become a better programmer
    • Read
    • Write
    • Review
    • Contribute
  • 8 ways to be a better programmer in 6 minutes
    • Use a bigger font size
    • Make hard-coded strings look ugly
    • Pick an ‘obscure’ keyword and master it
    • Increase code-coverage by 1%
    • Read the code from an open source project
    • Run a static analysis tool against your code
    • Pick an ugly method to refactor
    • Stop reading, start writing
  • Become a Better Developer in 6 months. How?
    • Spending more time looking at art works
    • I’m going to start playing with Lego’s again
    • I’ll start learning Ruby On Rails
    • Play chess a bit more
    • Read Freakonomics
    • Keep blogging, writing articles and answering questions in the forums

5 Responses to “Being a Better Developer”

  • Chirantan Says:

    Wow! Great stuff. Thanks for this. :)

  • Paul W. Homer Says:

    It’s a nice list and all, but doesn’t it apply to virtually everything? Knowing more about what you are doing usually translates into doing it better.

    What might be more interesting are those things in the 70 million results that aren’t general; that apply to programming, but little else. Are the skills needed to build computer systems really that unique?

  • TechKnow Says:

    @Paul – You are right, I boiled down and abstracted those results to axioms that are equally applicable to programmers or investment bankers. But I really think that if we follow these simple rules then we can be better Java programmers, Ruby programmers, or even investment bankers… The truth is that being better students makes us better programmers. If we learn how to learn, to see the patterns blindfolded, to navigate up and down the different layers or abstractions, to trouble shoot and debug code you never have seen before, to ask the right questions at the right time… all these things help us program no matter what language or technology stack you program in.

    That said, I think you are right, there also needs to be more concrete examples specific to programming, or more specifically programming in a particular language. Given a particular language, say Ruby on Rails, we can break down Try New Things to include the following: update to latest Rails release, find new plugins, find new gems, use different Ruby frameworks, etc..

  • Josh McDonald Says:

    Learn. Try. Teach.

    You can write the best code in the world, but if you’re keeping it to yourself, you’re *not* a good coder.

  • seantheflexguy Says:

    This is an awesome post. Thanks for gathering all of this info. Really, really great advice here.

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