Wern Ancheta

Adventures in Web Development.

Why Are Developers Always Busy

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In this post I’ll try to make light on what’s really keeping developers busy (even at 4 am). My primary intention for writing this is because other people doesn’t seem to understand what’s keeping us tied in front of the computer all day even if we don’t really have client work to do. I always gets asked what I’m currently working on.

I actually have a current project but haven’t really taken it seriously since I haven’t signed any contract yet. They always assume that is what I’m doing when I’m in front of the computer. In other words people assume that what I’m doing when I’m in front of the computer is just a client project. And that I’m better of relaxing and watching TV if I’m not working on one.

That assumption and conclusion is a big mistake. I took up Information Technology in college which is related to any other computer courses like Computer Science, Computer Engineering, etc.

Information Technology is always evolving, and it branches out to lots of fields like Programming, Animation, Graphic Design, Web Design and Development, Hardware, Simulation, Hacking, etc. You can be pretty much anything you want depending on what you like the most. For me its web development.

Like any other course that we can take in college, education doesn’t stop after graduation. We get some experiences on the job, sometimes we learn something outside the job which isn’t really related to our job like swimming or dancing or playing a musical instrument.

But IT is different, there’s no barrier to entry which means that any professional can enter no matter what course they took on college. A 5 year old kid can do web development, a lawyer can do programming as a hobby or a part-time job. People can’t say that you can’t do the job well if you don’t have a computer science background (algorithms, data structures and stuff). Because they don’t hire you for your college degree, they hire you for your skills.

In order to gain new skills you either have to take an expensive college course or teach yourself how to do things (usually by taking online courses or watching tutorials on youtube). The second one sounds much better right? And you can’t really learn everything that you need to know in school because technology is evolving at a faster rate than any other field.

A Comparison

Compare what they teach about Nursing on the year 1990 to what they teach at this time (2012). The difference is just minimal. I don’t have statistical data to prove my point. Instead I just based it on my observation (based on what they’re usually doing on hospitals and what there usual laboratory activities in nursing schools). They still put dextrose for the sick, they still use alcohol for disinfecting wounds, they still disect frogs as a laboratory activity, etc. Not much has changed really (unless there are some discoveries that will prove the current medical practices to be wrong).

While on a computer related course, practices are changing all the time. I’ll just use web development as an example since its where things usually evolve at a much faster pace. But I don’t really want to repeat things I’ve already written before so here are the Web Development Practices from Hell this post is mainly targeted to people who doesn’t have a complete understanding of what we developers are trying to do so there’s no need to place some technical stuff.

Continuous Learning

Ok I guess by this time I’ve already established my point that continuous and lifelong learning is necessary to thrive in this field. What’s good practice today might be frowned upon tomorrow. The cool technology that you might be using today might not be marketable tomorrow. That’s how fast things are in the world of web development. And that is why we always try to keep ourselves updated of the latest technology, tools (things that make our life easier), and trends that comes out. We also have to play around with those technologies and tools (zen coding, chrome dev tools, firebug, sublime text, emmet, laravel, knockout.js, backbone.js). Almost everyday there are 5 or more JavaScript (a programming language for the web) that comes out, and one or two of those are so interesting that you have to play with it (and hopefully incorporate them in your next project). Libraries are one thing but there are also tools which takes more time to get used to. The general rule that might be followed by every developer is: “Test all the things then stick with what feels right for you”

test

Giving Back To The Community

Aside from that we also have this feeling of wanting to give back to the community in which we learned from. Awesome people put up awesome content for us to consume therefore its only right to give back to the community by helping out the newbies in Stackoverflow or some forum or IRC Channel.

We also have some ideas that we want to execute which then comes out as a personal or side project. We do not get paid by doing a personal project, it just shows our passion (or love) for what we do is real. And that we are willing to build something even if there’s no money or some kind of compensation involved. For other developers instead of building their own they just contribute to somebody else’s project (mainly because of lack of time, contributing to an existing project usually takes less time than building your own project from scratch). Personal projects are part of the learning process, you can never really prove that you know something unless you apply those knowledge and build something.

Lastly we also have to maintain our blogs and portfolios (this is where we usually post screenshots and links to a few of our work).

Assumptions on what people are really doing on a certain field can’t really be avoided since I also have a lot of assumptions to other fields like Nursing, Law, Engineering and Accounting. But before we conclude we must at least try to verify our assumptions.

Conclusion

I really hope this post has given some light on what developers or IT people really do. Don’t just conclude that were just watching movies or playing games on Facebook if you know that we don’t currently have a project or a job. We love our jobs very much that we are willing to give up our free time to keep ourselves updated, gain new skills, and help people out.

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