10 tips to become a better developer in 2016

Before the tips

There are some principles that should be fixed in your mind before reading these tips:

  • These tips are not steps, you should see what is important for you, organize properly and track them (track is important when you are not motivated);
  • You’re the only responsible for your career and your life. So, take the responsibility for them!
  • Whenever you feel that you’re procrastinating, take a break, come back, repeat and persist until the task is finished;
  • Split your tasks in a way so that they become small enough for you to complete them in one day. You can not allow yourself to not do a task, you have to honor your plans and your word.
  • Plan what you’re going to study and why. “Why” is essential, it is your objective. So, keep it clear looking for it everyday when you wake up and before you sleep;
  • Plan only what you’re sure you can do and challenge yourself about the time.
  • Do your tasks even when you don’t want to, because it is essential to create a habit;

Okay, I think this is all you need to become a better developer in 2016. Let’s move on to the tips.

Learn English

Yes, you need to learn enough English to read resources like documentations, stackoverflow, blogs etc. When your English is better enough to do it, congratulations! Now you can continue your studies and learn English! Why?

We don’t have the right to hate English. It is one of the most spoken languages in the world and it is an easy one to learn. Really, you can do it! You can start your learning process slowly, for example, 2 days per week, 1 hour each day and study without interruptions. I recommend you plan what you’ll study on each day as not to waste your time deciding on what to study. Here is a list of what you can study:

  1. A chapter of a grammar book and do its exercises;
  2. A chapter of a book of your choice;
  3. Write a blog post in English;
  4. Practice on duolingo.com;
  5. Translate texts;
  6. Chat or email with English speakers (google groups, slack etc);
  7. Watch TED talks about topics of your interest — it’s important to train your ear to understand people and the verbal constructions they use;
  8. Watch series you’re used to without subtitles;
  9. Follow channels on youtube(in english) about subject that interests you. (e.g travel, music, news, comedy etc);

The important thing here is that you should have a plan and stay committed to it in order to create the habit of learning new things and sharing this knowledge.

Code several hours per day (5, 6, 8 or 10 hours per day)

Code is like math, you need to practice it several hours a day if you want to learn. There is no other way, we need to practice! There are several resources and tutorials on the internet. Therefore, start a project and code, code, code and code.

Code Kata

A kata is an exercise in karate where you perform a group of movements repeatedly improving them. Code Kata is a purpose to bring this element of practice inside programming and it is a good idea to practice that new language you’re learning!

I’m completely new to this concept of Code Katas but we can use http://codekata.org/ to get some exercises and practice them. Let’s go practice!

Use command line

Don’t be afraid of using the command line. There are several tools that are well used via command line. So, don’t look for user interfaces, open your terminal and try it now. When you master the command line you start to feel like some kind of God! :P

Go Open Source

Look for an open source project. There are a lot of them waiting for committers. It is an opportunity to practice your English, programming and social skills. Remember that when you’re collaborating with an open source project you’re practicing and learning a lot! I think this is the best way to improve your skills.

Join the community

It is important for your motivation to stay connected with people who are interested in same subjects that you are. So, look for the community, subscribe to an email group, use http://www.meetup.com and go spread your ideas with other human beings in the real world.

Go out and you’ll see that this is an efficient way of keeping yourself motivated, get to know people, take your creativity to work harder and improve your skills. Remember: “if you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”. We are not superheroes and we need each other to do significant jobs in our lives.

Go to events

This is another way to keep yourself updated and motivated. Look for events that you can go! If for some reason it could be hard for you, talk to the community and organize some event. You’ll be impressed when you see how nice people can be.

Talk to people and build a solid network. Look for connections (with connections come opportunities) and share what you know because the more people improve, more we improve as professional and human beings.

Speak on events

Okay, it can be very hard to do this, but it is important. Remember that you can always contribute with something even when you think you can’t! No matter if what you have to contribute is impressive or not, just share it and you’ll be helping a lot of people. So, go there and talk about what you know. People will respect your courage, they will listen and maybe ask you about your presentation. So, look for opportunities to talk and you’ll see that it is not so hard to do. Actually, you can get to like it.

Open your mind for ideas

Just a few things to add in 2016’s study guide:

  1. Learn cloud computing technologies (Deploy an App, run a virtual machine in cloud);
  2. Learn about DevOps and containers;
  3. Read about Internet of Things;

Learn Devops

Here I want to suggest a different mindset for this year. As developers, we are too used to develop software, deliver it to infrastructure sector and start a fight about “whose is the fault?”. Well, this is not correct, our mission is develop and deliver the software to the customer! So, we need to take the responsibility for it. Okay?

There are a lot of DevOps tools that we can learn to achieve this objective. So, learn about DevOps and deliver your software to the customer.

I hope these tips will useful for you and that at the end of 2016 we can take a look to what we’ve tracked and think: “Very good, 2016 was awesome, a worth year and I’m much better now”.

Thanks to my friend Felipe Carvalho for help me with this post! :D

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