Explore and improve your development skills

My jobs have always been focused on the technologies and stacks I was used to. This is a safe and efficient way to get work done, but what I didn’t realise is that it only hold me back on learning different ways.

In this post I am sharing my findings of joining a company which uses a different approach to development, stacks and work flows than I was used to.

Be not afraid of change

Change is hard, especially for people who tend to follow a strict pattern of applied methods. I am one of those people who likes to do the things I do following a strict way and thinks teams should all do that. It can improve team work and the quality of the products delivered.

The problem with this is that I forgot to take a look at other methods and thus not change my ways.

I was used to the most common PHP, HTML, CSS, JS stack. Made a lot of websites using WordPress, which I was never really fond of, but there were no better alternatives in my stack. I had grown to love and hate the stack at the same time.

After a while I grew to like Node.js and started working in the backend again, which opened my eyes to all the great things I was missing out on. This triggered my will or maybe even the need to change.

Learn from broken systems

Even if you’re not willing to learn a certain method a team is using, just try it out. Especially in JavaScript development there is an overload in different frameworks. Some you might not like, some you might want to use. Since I joined a team which already used frameworks I was not familiar with, I had to in order to be part of the team.

I started learning Angular because of a lot of projects were made using it. It opened my eyes to a lot of new possibilities, but also made me see the pitfalls of the system. This is a good thing. Learn from mistakes, and also if you made them yourself in the past.

It might take some time to get into something new, but it’s really worth it in the end. You’ll help yourself to a lot more knowledge and insights.

The problem of different programming languages

In the past, I always had trouble switching programming languages. The syntax was hard for me to learn, nothing really went right the first time and it frustrated me a lot. The problem was, which I recently realised, was that I was not an experienced enough programmer.

I was not used to solving complex problems and choosing the right architectures for my applications yet. No full understanding of programming principles makes it hard to learn a new language. You’ll get a lot of new principles and ways thrown at you before you can even make up your own mind about them.

Recently I started learning Python. In the beginning I couldn’t really read the code which was in front of me and it kind of gave me an headache. When I started learning the syntax I quickly learned how clean it is and not really that different from the languages I am used to write. The only hurdles I had to overcome were how to do certain things in the language which I already use in other languages.

In closing

Try something different. Learn a new language. Create something totally different. Not all the methods and principles have to be followed as strict as you’re used to, but try to apply what you’ve learned in the past on new information you’ll learn.