Go To The Next Level In 2017

SitePoint Java Newsletter IX (20-Jan-2017)

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In the last newsletter of 2016, I tried a forecast for Java in 2017. Here’s one by Simon Ritter who knows things a little better: Staring Into My Java Crystal Ball. But while it is nice to have an idea of where Java goes in 2017, do you have any plans?


Ideas For 2017

After all, the new year is a good opportunity to lay out the path you want to take during the next 12 months or so. Personally, I can highly recommend making some plans, writing them down, and checking occasionally whether you are still on course. (At least that’s how I do it.) So if you’re looking for ways to boost your developer skills in 2017, here are a couple of things I can recommend.

Of course you don’t have to do them in that order. :) Pick whatever you like and go with it! After all, this is your free time so it should be fun.

Explore The Development World

Make sure that googling at work is not your only influx of knowledge and find channels that put you in touch with interesting development topics. But take some time to read them, too! On hectic weeks I have to work hard to make time to actually read what I find. It is easy to fall back to superficially skimming articles but in my experience that’s just a waste of time because it takes me about as long as closing the tab to forget what I just “read”.

These are ways to get more input:

But I’m preaching to the choir here, right? I mean, you are reading a newsletter already, so you’re definitely interested in learning more. Congrats on taking the first step! :)

If you have a friend or coworker who you think would thrive with more input, though, why not forwards this newsletter to them? (Smooth, eh?)

Explore The Java Community

All the content you’re reading is created by developers just like you. Getting to know the names behind the words helps you to recognize them around the net. This makes it easier for you to trust their content and will sooner or later open the door to interesting discussions with your peers or the authors themselves.

Talking about peers… Look for ways to discuss whatever you read with people who are just as interested in these topics as you are. Ideally, they have a different opinion but I guess that shouldn’t be too hard.

Consider going to local meet-ups. The talks are not always top notch but that’s usually due to a lack of presentation skills (which is actually a good thing — see below). You will still learn a lot but the best part is always hanging out after the talk with food and maybe drinks to have some awkward silencesinteresting discussions with other developers.

Share Your Experiences

Googled for something for longer than five minutes? That’s a blog post waiting to be written. Frustrated that the top answer on StackOverflow is dated? Get an account and improve it. Convinced that some post you read is misleading or even blatantly false? Write a tweet storm. (But stay kind.)

I could go on but I guess you got where this is heading: Find a way to share your experiences! The internet is full of people telling you to get a blog (here’s a recent one). There are of course downsides, too, but I am convinced that the benefits outweigh them. And in case you’re wondering — setting up a blog is free and really easy nowadays (for example with GitHub Pages).

If a full-blown blog isn’t for you, try Medium or dev.to. At SitePoint, we are also always looking for good authors, so you can get in touch with me as well (although prior writing experience would be a plus).

Then there are local meet-ups and conferences. Think it’s hard to get accepted? Think again! Just find an interesting topic (anything that’s still in the making is a sure thing), spend a couple of days to learn about it and, boom, you know something 99% of your peers don’t but would like to. Create a presentation (I recommend Asciidoc and reveal.js) and a 200 word abstract and you’re good to go and spam every call for paper that someone dared to put online.

If you’re feeling insecure, start at a local meet-up. Remember how some talks aren’t that great but you still learned something? Now you can be the guy or gal who’s sweating through their first talk in front of a crowd of strangers. But the part the audience sees isn’t the most important one.

More important is what changes inside that speaker. They will realize that they are not dying on stage, that nobody will call them a fraud, and that people are actually thankful for sharing. Next time it’s easier and after three times the nervousness recedes far enough to be invisible on the outside.

Code!

The classic: Find an open source project and contribute.

Much has been written about it (for example here and here) and I won’t go into it now. Just one thing: The coding is not the hard part.

Take it easy

In all likelihood, you already have a job and are already spending a lot of time programming. After casting your net, it might seem that everybody out there knows a lot more and you have to constantly hustle just to keep up. But nothing’s further from the truth! Most people are experts in a very narrow field and can be surprisingly clueless when it comes to other areas. Try it, ask me anything about Java EE or Spring and you will see how little one has to know while still being allowed to speak at conferences or write a book.

So find something you like and just do that. Again, this is your free time so do as much as you want not as much as you feel you should. And if you think that you’d never have enough time to do any of this, then that’s fine, too. Just keep your eyes open at work and maybe steal 10 minutes per day to read one post. Come on, just one. It’s free. :)


What Else is Going On?

Two important things I wanted to cover but now I ran out of words.

Maybe next time.



PS: Don’t forget to subscribe. :)