Makers Academy Day 53

We had a really interesting workshop on research strategies during Rails week. A common experience that many of us had was that we found ourselves flailing whilst trouble shooting with a new technology.

Our coach @sjmog1 outlined the below plan to add more strategy to our coding toolbox when faced with unchartered coding territories. Aside from having strategies, an important aspect of the workshop was also encouraging us to think more critically and reflect on knowing when to use which strategy. Having a strategy would in turn help to avoiding bricolage (or trying random stuff without a strategy). To instead engage in deliberate practice for research with the view to being methodical in the face of the unknown.

We discussed three key strategies for different scenarios based on a syntax and intention axis: Code research strategy; Mapping & diagramming strategy and Keyword research strategy. These outline different strategies that can be used depending on the extent to which the problem at hand is a result of a syntax or intention knowledge.

Research strategies table

Without further ado, here are the steps to take for each strategy:

Keyword Research strategy:

  1. Identify keywords (max 5) E.g. rails, controller, test, post
  2. Prioritise results, e.g. Stack Overflow, API doc, blog posts

Code research strategy:

  1. Isolate tokens, e.g. isolate out piece of code (e.g. method)
  2. Go to documentation, e.g. API documentation
  3. Source code, e.g. archaeology — scraping gently away at layers of dirt to get a full picture of the code — reveal intention of code

Mapping & diagramming strategy

  1. Group mapping/diagramming
  2. Work out which quadrant you’re in & then the strategy
  3. Maintain strategic practice

Something I’ve noticed is that to program effectively, you really need to be able to have a strategy and be methodical. These are two skills I’m aiming to continue to improve on in my final month at Makers, and beyond!